A World Cup co-hosted by ancient enemies South Korea and Japan took a curious twist Tuesday with a report that a newer enemy had entered the mix.
Reports from Seoul indicated that North Korea, a country with which the South has technically been at war for more than four decades, would share South Korea’s half of World Cup 2002.
According to the Seoul daily newspaper Joongang Ilbo, four of the 32 countries in the tournament probably will play their first-round games north of the 38th parallel, the world’s most heavily guarded border.
“We have always said that, with FIFA’s agreement, the staging of part of the tournament in North Korea could make a major contribution to Korean unification and world peace,” Song Young Shik, general secretary of South Korea’s bidding committee, said during a visit to Los Angeles in January.
Tuesday’s report in Joongang Ilbo also quoted Kim Un Yong, president of the South Korea Olympic Committee and an International Olympic Committee vice president, as saying FIFA wanted Japan and South Korea, which jointly were awarded World Cup 2002 last Friday, to each have opening and closing ceremonies and that the location of the final would be decided by the drawing of lots.