One of the most reclusive countries on the globe is finding out first hand just how visible it has become after qualifying for the World Cup.
North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as they are known to FIFA, made it into this year’s World Cup final for the first time in more than four decades, and despite the cause for celebration, the media in the secretive country remains tightly monitored.
A deal between Pyongyang and Seoul to share broadcast rights of the tournament collapsed prior to its start, largely due to increasing tensions between the neighbouring nations.
In spite of the scrapped deal, Chinese media outlets say Pyongyang broadcast North Korea’s crushing 7-0 defeat to Portugal in the group stage of the World Cup.
It’s believed the broadcast was the first full, live coverage of an international match shown in the country.
Some fans of North Korea’s football team, nicknamed Chollima, have taken to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to show their support.
One Facebook fan group had nearly 700 followers at the time this article was written.
But speculation abounds that fans waving North Korea’s iconic star-printed flag in South Africa are, in fact, Chinese actors in disguise.
Economic hardships and restrictions on international travel imposed by leader Kim Jong-Il make it nearly impossible for North Korean fans to make the trip down south to spruik their team.
AOL’s Fanhouse claims Beijing offered 1,000 fans tickets to attend the World Cup, and that many of these went to actors and musicians who would go to stadiums and show support for North Korea.
China is North Korea’s biggest ally, and failed to qualify in this year’s World Cup final.
Moreover, a fake Twitter account has been set up proposing to be DPR Korea’s official team account.
The account mocks the country’s tight restrictions on what the media can report, and pokes fun at leader Kim Jong-Il.