11/12/2011, 00.00
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Only 10 Japanese follow their national team to Pyongyang

On November 15, at the Kim Il-sung stadium will host the last match of the qualifiers for the World Cup 2014: Japan against North Korea. Although already disqualified for having lost its other matches, the national team of the "Dear Leader" will allow only 10 guests to watch the game.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - The national football team of North Korea is preparing to host Japan for a 2014 World Cup qualifying match. Although it is already excluded from the next competition - after losing all the qualifying matches to date- the government in Pyongyang has no intention of allowing guests to discover anything about the country: only 10 Japanese will be admitted to follow the team.

The game will be held on November 15 at the "Kim Il-sung," stadium the only all natural grass pitch in North Korea, which can accommodate up to 50 thousand people. Unless there are any last minute surprises, the "Chollima" (the team's official nickname, which means "the unicorns) should be led by the coach Kim Jong-hun: punished with14 months of hard labour after the defeat of the last World Cup, who has been given a second chance by the regime.

51 Japanese journalists asked to be accredited to the event: the regime has granted a visa to only 3 television operators, two tabloid journalists, one from a broadsheet newspaper and 4 freelance (known for their amenable positions to the government of Kim Jong-il). The Tokyo government’s formal protests to FIFA have proved useless: the number of permits will remain the same.

The move is typical of Pyongyang, which has nurtured a decade’s long animosity towards the Land of Rising Sun and has an obsession with secrecy. The dictator Kim Jong-il has repeatedly stated that sport, "should not be an excuse to break into our fortresses." Japan also has closed all official diplomatic channels with the North Korean after its nuclear provocations in 2007.
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