South Korean rivals to help North's U-17 youth

A South Korean football team organised during the Cold War to "Crush the puppet state of North Korea!” has now stepped forward to help the North's youth with football. The Yangji squad was established in 1967 when then President Park Chung-hee issued an order to Kim Hyung-wook, director general of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency to “set up a team to beat the North” following the Communist regime's advance into the quarterfinals in the 1966 World Cup held in England.

"Like the commandos specially trained in Silmido to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, members of Yangji underwent intense training in a camp pitched within the CIA facilities in Imun-dong, Seoul," reported Heo Yun-jeong, 70, who was the captain then, said, “We didn’t hold rifles, but we trained intensively to defeat the North. However, we never had a chance to fight. It is a totally new age now, but my grudge will linger until at least I get a chance to talk to Lee Chan-myeong who is currently staying in the South.”

Together with his old teammates, Heo will visit the NIS in Naegok-dong, Seoul, on 11 April to ask for a meeting with the North Korean U-17 Youth National Team and its head Lee Chan-myeong. They want to take part in a friendly match mixed with the youngsters with the help of the NIS so that the North Koreans can be more exposed to the outside world. Thirteen members including Lee Hoi-taek, Kim Ho, Cho Jeong-su, Lee Yeong-geun, Jeong Byeong-tak, Kim Sam-nak, Jeong Gyu-pung, Oh In-bok, Seo Yun-chan, Park Su-il, Choi Jae-mo, Kim Yeong-seop, and Choi Un-hyang will join this event. Lee Jae-hyeong, a collector of football-related items, has also received a special invitation.

The North’s U-17 team arrived in the South late last month and has been touring around the nation for training as they prepare for the FIFA U-17 World Cup scheduled for July in South Korea. Cho Jeong-soo, vice president of the Seoul Football Association, said, “We expect that NIS director Kim Man-bok will be cooperative as he likes football.”