If you had to associate just one football trait with Korea DPR midfielder Kim Kuk-Jin it would undoubtedly be pace. The 21-year-old who petrified rival defenders with his surging runs at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru and he hopes to repeat that feat on a much bigger stage in South Africa come June as he explained to FIFA.com.
Five years ago, Kim proved a livewire with Korea DPR as the East Asians emerged tournament surprise packets by reaching the last eight. Kim made a leading contribution scoring twice in the tournament included a goal that sent the Italians packing.
His performances at Peru 2005 and subsequent showings in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada helped Kim become one of the few North Koreans to earn a move to Europe, when he was signed by Swiss second division side Concordia Basel in 2008. National team captain Hong Yong-Jo, who plies his trade at Russian club Rostov, being another rare example. Around the same time Kim graduated to the Korea DPR first team starting in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers against Mongolia, where he scored in each leg.
In 2009 he moved to FC Wil but it was in Basel that he made rapid progress, appearing in 20 senior matches scoring two goals. He also featured heavily for FC Basel (a joint team formed by FC Basel and Kim's club Concordia Basel) in the 2009 Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup 2009. “It was a fantastic tournament for me as we won the title,” he said proudly. “I was particularly happy as I scored against Manchester United.”
Having figured prominently with Korea DPR at two FIFA youth tournaments, Kim is naturally hoping to play an inspirational role with Chollima on the world’s grandest football stage. “It goes without saying that I am so much looking forward to representing my country at the World Cup and should I make it into the final squad, I will do my utmost to steer my team and score goals,” he stated.
Kim appeared in just the two matches during Korea DPR’s 16-match qualifying campaign and was not called up for the recent warms-up against Venezuela and Mexico, which suggests that his FIFA World Cup hopes may be relatively slim. Despite this, he is confident he is capable of shoring up the team with his skills if given the opportunity. “Those featuring throughout the qualifying competition are most likely to make it into the 23-man line-up but I will never give up. I can play full 90 minutes without losing tempo and I am clever with movements and passes.”
Returning to the FIFA World Cup finals, 44 years on from that famous quarter-final showing at England 1966, has been a major accomplishment for Korea DPR, but Kim thinks their performance at South Africa 2010 is the only yardstick to justify their continental re-emergence. “All Asian participants are desperate to showcase their progress in front of the world and only some solid achievement in the World Cup can show we are among Asian’s best,” he concluded.