In recent years Korea DPR have emerged as a force to be reckoned with again. After the Chollima shook the world at the 1966 FIFA World Cup™ in England, it took 44 years for them to make their second appearance in the world finals at South Africa 2010. The North Koreans breezed past Mongolia to reach the third round of the Asian Zone qualifying, where they finished second behind Korea Republic after holding their southern neighbours to goalless draws twice. It was déjà-vu in the ensuing final round as Korea DPR finished runners-up in their group behind the South Koreans again, after holding off challenges from Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
It was a different story four years later in the hunt for a place at Brazil 2014, when Korea DPR suffered an early elimination. Pitted against Asian champions Japan and Uzbekistan, they lost thire opener to the Japanese 1-0 before two back-to-back narrow defeats against the Central Asians brought their ambitious campaign to an abrupt close.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Little had been known about Korea DPR until they landed in England in 1966, but the North Koreans began to win the hearts of the fans after bouncing back from an opening defeat against the Soviet Union with a hard-fought draw with Chile. The Chollima then stunned the watching world by beating two-time world champions Italy, before losing 5-3 to Eusebio’s Portugal in the quarter-finals, despite taking a three-goal lead in the first half. However, their second journey to the world stage in 2010 was one to forget, as Kim Jong-Hun’s charges made a premature exit after suffering three consecutive defeats to Brazil, Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire.
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup England 1966 (Quarter-finals)
Former stars: Pak Doo-Ik, Pak Seung-Zin, Ji Yun-Nam