"He is Japanese but isn't a Japanese, he is Korean but is playing on the North Korean squad, he is a North Korean national but lives in Japan - all these things are very difficult for the world to understand," Shin Mu Koeng, a friend and his biographer, said. [...]The LA Times has more on him here. His tears during the playing of the national anthem [which apparently meant he was an 'emotional wreck'] attracted attention, as noted in this article. What I found interesting was this:
"My homeland is not Japan. There's another country in Japan, called Zainichi," he says. "None of these countries - South Korea, North Korea and Japan - can be my home country, because I'm a zainichi and therefore Zainichi is my native land.
It took six hours for North Korea's official news agency to issue its brief match report. ''There was a game between the North Korean and Brazilian teams this morning Pyongyang time,'' said the report. ''On the 88th minute … player Ji Yun Nam dashed into the gate and … goaled.''The LA Times also looked at Koreans of Northern and Southern descent watching the game together in Los Angeles, interviewing a women who fled North Korea ten years ago. Even Lee Myung-bak was cheering for them.
North Koreans lucky enough to have access to a television will get to see their heroes perform, but only if they wait. ''They never broadcast live sport, they normally broadcast one or two days late,'' said Simon Cockerell, who has made 90 trips to Pyongyang as general manager of Koryo Tours.
While the match was on, fans were instead treated to Echo of Mountain, a comedy about farmers' attempts to boost grain output.
The game highlights are here and Ji Yun-nam's goal is here [open these in a new window - it resizes your browser].