Monday, June 28, 2010

Korean Nostalgia For The One Country

After an absence of 44 years North Korea appeared in the World Cup, and, as expected, did not impress, except for the fact that they made the event. Beaten by Portugal 7 to 0, they showed why they were the biggest underdog of the tournament, but they did attempt the impossible.

With the sinking of the Chonam and the sadness and cries of the families of the victims still fresh in the memory of the South Koreans, the jubilations of the world cup games come with mixed feelings.
Many Koreans in the South were born in the North so the love of their place of birth is strong, despite also feeling anger toward a government that tyrannizes its people.

In the Catholic Times, a columnist who was born in North Korea, said that she fell asleep watching the North Korean and Brazilian game but still checked the internet next morning to find out what happenedl; she was pleased to see that the results of the game were favorable to North Korea. "Before 1960 we all lived on the same peninsular, and belonged to the same people," she said. "We can't hide that fact."

A Korean resident of Japan on hearing the North Korean National Anthem, started to cry and the columnist writer mentioned that it also brought tears to her eyes. She now understands how the Jews of the Diaspora felt. The only relative that came South at the division of the country was her mother's sister. Her parents had died and the relatives that meet for family celebrations are just six.

This year, her thoughts of the family in the North turned to her uncle, a priest, her father's older brother, who is now listed among the 38 who are being proposed for canonization by the Church. Her uncle was imprisoned in Pyongyang in 1950 and when the North Korean troops retreated to the North, they took their prisoners on a death march during which many died.

Seeing the North Korean team on the soccer field brought her back to her early years growing up in the North. She hopes that for the next world cup Koreans will see a united team playing for one country.

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