Korea DPR
© Foto-net

The past
Korea DPR’s achievements at the youth level need no introduction after their exploits in the past two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup finals. The East Asians may have missed out on the inaugural event at Canada 2002 and the next edition at Thailand 2004, but they came out of nowhere to win the coveted global trophy at Russia 2006 as tournament debutants. They would continue to impress on the world stage in Chile two years later, storming into the final only to fall to USA 2-1.

The present
Coach Choe Kwang-Sok is blessed with a host of world-class talents, as several of his key players, most notably Ho Un-Byol, featured significantly at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 where Korea DPR emerged as the champions. Not surprisingly, they made rather light work of their group stage opponents during qualification before losing to Japan 1-0 in the semi-finals, a result that sent them into the match for third-place with China. In the all-important game, Ho came to the rescue by striking the only goal to seal their qualification at the hosts’ expense.

The future
With two FIFA trophies under their belt, Korea DPR have developed an all-conquering mentality. Despite finishing third in Asia’s qualifying campaign, coach Choe was quick to set his sights on another world honor as soon as their spot was secured. “We came here to win the Asian title, but we failed,” he said. “Our tasks are to beat European teams to win the World Cup, so our goal is to do Asia proud.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Kim Kyong-Hwa (2006), Kim Song-Hui (2006), Cha Hu-Nam (2008), Ra Un-Sim (2008)

Key players
Ho Un-Byol (midfielder), Jon Myong-Hwa (forward), Hong Myong-Hui (goalkeeper)

Qualifying statistics
Korea DPR maintained an impressive record before losing to Japan by a solitary goal in the semi-finals, scoring 14 times while conceding just once.

The numbers game
2 – Korea DPR has made just two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup appearances previously, but they made it to the final on both occasions.