Imagine a place....
- You have to qualify to travel
- When selected to travel, you can't leave your hotel
- TVs and newspapers are removed from the hotel room
- You are told what to wear
- You are told how to act; free expression isn't cool
- You can't sing
- You can't dance
- People will spot you if you look at others outside your group
- You will leave when told to
That horrible, horrible place?
South Africa, of course!
If you are North Korean, that is.
Excerpted from a column in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times:
In South Africa, a soccer game is a thinly disguised reason to sing, dance, scream and blow on a vuvuzela for hours. The North Korean fans handpicked to attend their country's World Cup opener Tuesday displayed all the joy and spontaneity of accountants attending a seminar.
China's state-run news agency has reported that North Korea had offered tickets to sporting officials and tour agencies in China, which does not have a team here. Chinese journalists in South Africa had adopted the North Koreans as their own and, the news agency reported, about 1,000 Chinese dancers and musicians were recruited to cheer for the North Koreans.
But shortly before Tuesday's game started, a five-row block of seats on the second level at Ellis Park Stadium filled up with more than 40 men and a woman, all dressed in identical red shirts, jackets and scarves, wearing identical red caps and waving small North Korean flags. Across the way there was another similarly sized red dot of fans in grandstands that were otherwise filled with the green and yellow of Brazil.
Kim Yong Chon, 43, one of the North Korean fans, said the group, which numbered 300, was not Chinese, but he admitted they had been carefully recruited by the North Korean government to make the trip. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the group had left Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, and traveled through Beijing the same day and they would stay in South Africa as long as their team does.
They sang the North Korean national anthem loudly but sat passively, almost expressionless, through most of the game, with one man sucking on a beer. They spoke only infrequently to one another — Chon said they didn't know one another before coming to South Africa — and mainly reacted to the action on the field only when directed to do so by a man who stood before them like an orchestra conductor.
Few of the men bothered to acknowledge the non-Korean fans, following the lead of their team, which was hidden on a private floor of a luxury hotel, failed to show at news conferences and banned outside journalists from its training sessions.
I mean, why have this...
When you can have this?....
With all the problems that the United States is having, we've got a looooooooooooooong way to go before we are that bad. At least our fans know how to have fun 6000 miles from home...