Nearly four years after the government closed its borders, the North Korean national football team will make its comeback to the world sports scene.
- North Korea to participate in Asian Games
- Four years since last match
- Closed borders in 2020 due to Covid-19
WHAT HAPPENED? North Korea’s national football squad has not played a competitive match since the 2022 World Cup Asia qualifiers at the end of 2019, when they drew 0-0 with Lebanon.
Since the 2018 Asian Games, North Korea has not competed in any significant international sporting event, missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and the 2022 Qatar World Cup since the government shut its borders because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, athletes from North Korea have already registered to play in judo, football, and volleyball at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. One sport in particular where the North has always performed well at the Asian Games is football.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The North Korean women’s team won the gold medal by defeating Japan in the same year that the North Korean men’s football team reached the Asiad final and lost to South Korea, finishing as runners-up. Both its male and female teams competed in the 2018 Asiad quarter-finals. However, considering how long it has been since they have engaged in international competition, it is uncertain if they will be able to duplicate their success in this year’s event.
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WHAT NEXT? After being delayed by the epidemic for a year, the Asian Games will begin in Hangzhou, China on September 23 and go until October 8. The fact that North Korea is participating in the Asian Games once more might indicate that it will eventually take part in international competitions like the 2024 Olympics in Paris.