North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has praised the “guerrilla-style” tactics of the women’s national football team after their victory in the East Asian Cup.
State television on Tuesday showed Kim personally greeting and hugging team members at Pyongyang airport on their return the day before from the tournament in Wuhan, China.
According to a report by the official KCNA news agency, Kim praised the players’ “indefatigable mental prowess” that saw them through to a 2-0 victory against the South in the women’s final.
He also noted that the team’s triumph had come about by “applying the anti-Japanese guerrilla-style offensive tactics” designed by the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.
The victory was especially sweet, Kim said, as it came just days before the country celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula’s 1945 liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
In North Korea, the Japanese surrender in World War II is portrayed as the victory of anti-Japanese guerrilla units under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung.
Japan finished third out of four teams in the women’s tournament. In the men’s event Japan ended last, while the North finished third and South Korea won.
After the welcoming ceremony at the airport, state TV showed the women’s team boarding an open-top bus for a victory ride through Pyongyang, with crowds of flower-waving supporters lining the streets.
South Korea punches above its weight in the international sporting arena but the North’s sporting record has largely failed to fulfil its aspirations.
It has taken part in nine summer Olympics since Munich in 1972, but brought home only 14 gold medals.
The four golds it won in 2012 in London — all in weightlifting or judo — equalled its best-ever tally.
Since taking power following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in late 2011, Kim Jong-Un has actively pushed sports progress, and personally oversaw construction of a top-class ski resort.
Addressing a national meeting of sportspeople and officials in March, Kim had urged coaches and athletes in all sports to adopt “guerrilla-style” tactics to help turn the country into a sporting powerhouse. – Agence France-Presse