North Korea’s Fans Are Paid Chinese Actors

There’s something suspicious about the North Korean fans in the World Cup. Like, why do they all wear identical outfits? Also, aren’t North Koreans barred from freely leaving the country? A few answers to these very reasonable questions below. (Thanks to Lindsey and her brother for bringing up this mystery.)

The Fans May Be Paid Chinese Actors

British announcers during yesterday’s match speculate on the rumor that the North Koreans weren’t “fans” in the sense that that word is normally used.


The LA Times has done some reporting that indicates the situation may be slightly more complex than that, but something is obviously not quite right here:

“Shortly before Tuesday’s game started, a five-row block of seats on the second level at Ellis Park Stadium filled up with more than 40 men and a woman, all dressed in identical red shirts, jackets and scarves, wearing identical red caps and waving small North Korean flags. …

Kim Yong Chon, 43, one of the North Korean fans, said the group, which numbered 300, was not Chinese, but he admitted they had been carefully recruited by the North Korean government to make the trip…

They sang the North Korean national anthem loudly but sat passively, almost expressionless, through most of the game, with one man sucking on a beer…”

The only light that the understandably media-shy North Korean coach has been able to shed on the broader situation here is that North Korea’s performance “will bring great happiness to our Dear Leader.” Which is all that really matters in the end.

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