Tag Archives: World Cup


KoreAm Editor Roundtable: Part 1

Pictured above: From left to right—Jimmy Lee, Julie Ha, Michelle Woo, John Lee and Ken Lee.

Twenty-five years ago, KoreAm Journal started out as a newsmagazine published on newsprint. “Get Involved!” encouraged the headline on the cover story for the very first issue published April 1990. Featuring news briefs, a profile of Cerritos City Council candidate Charles Kim, restaurant reviews, personal commentary and even a mini-guide to the Korean language, KoreAm boldly announced its arrival in the alternative media space.

In the last quarter-century, the publication, which would eventually evolve into a glossy magazine, has kept a pulse on the issues and people forming the fabric of the Korean American community, as it continues to strive to fulfill the vision outlined by founding publisher Jung Shig Ryu in his inaugural note to readers: “We at KoreAm Journal are dedicating ourselves to cultivating an awareness of the Korean heritage, and informing people of the events happening not only in their homeland, but also in their communities.”

To honor KoreAm’s 25th anniversary, we invited former editors who steered the magazine between 1991 and 2014 to reflect on the milestones over the years. Their recollections touched on the humorous to the heartfelt. We couldn’t print the entirety of the conversation, recorded at KoreAm’s office in Gardena, Calif., due to space and some off-the-record moments, but below is a transcript of the dialogue’s highlights.

You can also watch the first half of the discussion in the video here:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.41.21 AM

How Each First Came Across KoreAm

Jimmy Lee
When I was working at KYCC (Los Angeles’ Koreatown Youth and Community Center). We would get the magazine at the office.

Ken Lee: My mom was very active in the Korean community, so she was subscribing to it and I would just see it around the house. This was in the mid-’90s. At the time, it was still a newspaper.

Julie Ha: I actually started receiving KoreAm in my mailbox at the UCLA dormitory. I was like, why am I getting this all of a sudden? But it was free. I do remember being surprised I saw it in my mailbox and thinking, “Oh, this is sort of cool.”

Michelle Woo: I don’t know how I first heard about it, but I first heard about the [staff writer] job on journalismjobs.com. I don’t have a great story behind it, but I was living in Phoenix at the time. I’m not Korean—I’m Chinese—but my last name is Woo—W-o-o—so it could be either [Chinese or Korean], so I think that’s what got me the interview.

CS-25th-AM15-SubscriptionLetterA March 5, 1991 letter sent by KoreAm publisher James Ryu to potential subscribers.

Most Memorable Cover Issues or Stories

Jimmy: The 10-year anniversary of the L.A. riots. Putting that one together was pretty daunting. I think we tried to tackle more than we probably should have. I think for the most part we succeeded, but we really tried to take a look at the riots in a historically comprehensive sort of way. I think that the end result turned out to be very satisfying.

The riots were a very sort of defining moment for KoreAm, especially for the community, but specifically for KoreAm. It was right there at its infancy, we sort of kind of grew up with it.

Julie: In a way, the [L.A. riots] sort of underscored the whole purpose of KoreAm: to have a voice for Korean Americans in the media. A lot of Korean immigrants especially felt like they had no voice in the mainstream media, and that they were being totally misrepresented, underrepresented, as gun-toting Koreans guarding their stores, at any cost … and not really being humanized. There weren’t all these bilingual reporters at mainstream newspapers and TV stations, so I think that’s when a lot of Korean Americans felt like, “Wow, we have no voice.”

John Lee: [In late 1993, we ran] this photo essay by a Korean American photographer from New York who came to Los Angeles after the riots. He embarked on this mission to meet and photograph Korean merchants in the South Los Angeles area. I met him and got to go out on some of his shoots. He had a really good way of working with the merchants. He seemed to understand their lives and had a real comfortable rapport with them. Some of the images he got were really telling about how kind of mundane life is in the Korean liquor store in South Los Angeles, but they had a good way of giving insight into the motivation of people both behind the counter and in front of the counter. We ran this story in KoreAm Journal around the same time.

He eventually ended up working for the New York Times. Before that, we worked on a similar photo essay for the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine. He took photographs; I did a write-up for them.

Untitled-1“The Hard Life,” a photo essay by Chang W. Lee featured in the Dec. 1993 issue of KoreAm. 

Ken: For me, it would be the  [Dec. 1998] cover story we did on the North Korea famine. At the time, it felt like it wasn’t really something that was being discussed in the Korean American community, and at the time in the global community, it was known as the “silent famine” because it was largely being ignored. So, what I discovered was that a lot of first-generation Koreans still had very much a Cold War mentality in which they didn’t—they refused—to see past the politics and into the human suffering that was going on there. On that note, there was so much information that was being blocked, so it’s kind of understandable [that] it wasn’t at the forefront of people’s minds at the time.

At the time, it was just me and [KoreAm publisher] James [Ryu] essentially running the magazine. For two guys in a warehouse to make a cover story out of very little means—it was very satisfying to put that up and get a lot of congratulatory letters from people in the community.

CS-Image3-AM15-1SilentFamineThe Dec. 1998 North Korea famine issue 

Jimmy: That was the infamous phone call issue, right?

Ken: The story, it’s not too tired? I’m just going to pretend you guys aren’t here (motioning to the group), because they’ve heard it over and over. So, as I was saying, it was just me and James working in a warehouse, trying to put this important global issue together. I had managed to get a phone number of human rights workers who were in North Korea. One was a Canadian and the other was an American, and they were working in Pyongyang doing food distribution. I was able to just call them from here in Gardena to Pyongyang, North Korea, and just conduct, like, a two- or three-hour interview.

It felt like I was calling the moon from planet Earth in terms of having that accessibility. So I kind of forgot about it and then about two months later, we were in the office and James is like, “Keeeennnnnn!!!!” He was looking at the phone bill. I wasn’t surprised if it was something like, two dollars per minute. It was pretty bad, it was in the thousands. This was before Skype.

Cover-05-07_Test:Cover-12/06_TestMay 2007 Virginia Tech issue

Michelle: For me, this issue here  stands out (holds up copy of magazine). So this is May 2007. It’s all about Virginia Tech. The cover is, “Our Country, Our Tragedy,” on the Virginia Tech massacre. It was about a week before we were going to print. We had our cover story all laid out on Sonya Thomas, a competitive eater. She’s holding two hot dogs, and it was just this fun, lighthearted cover. And then, I think it was less than a week before we were going to go to print, there was this tragedy at Virginia Tech.

I was a staff writer at the time, and Corina Knoll was the editor. We had this meeting. We just decided to scratch all of our coverage and go full force with this. We wrote about the community response in Virginia, the Korean American community’s responses here, and how the Korean community felt this tragedy so deeply. Seung-hui Cho … I don’t think anyone could ever forget that name or that photograph.

I remember Margaret Cho in her standup was saying that when we heard that the shooter was Asian, everyone was like … ‘Please don’t let him be Korean.’ And I guess her whole joke was, not only was he Korean, but his last name was Cho. After covering all this, I think the community really appreciated that standpoint.

Julie: I remember people being worried that there might be anti-Asian hate crimes. That was a big fear and I remember being really happy about this issue because it was very proactively getting on top of that current issue and covering it from a point of view that I hadn’t seen in the mainstream. Even Seung-hui Cho was called “Cho Seunghui” for the longest time— last name first, and then his first name, which made him seem even more foreign versus American.

Jimmy: The one issue I’m proud of is our 2002 World Cup story. That was the year South Korea co-hosted with Japan and there was all this excitement within the Korean American community. What sucked for us here on the West Coast was that a lot of games were at 4 o’clock in the morning. There were all these big events going on, and so we were there covering it, and it got to be  quite the, you know, hazard to our sleeping health (laughs). But to see the Korean American community rally and get excited [over an event that] brought people all over together was a lot of fun.

world cup coverJuly 2002 World Cup issue

On Memorable Moments as Editor

Jimmy: Oh, there were plenty of bizarre moments. Once I got here, we were able to devote a little more [staff] resources. We actually had a photographer. We got to do a little bit more and, I like to say, we sort of experimented. We went to a Korean bathhouse and took photos.

Ken: In the name of journalism, right?

Jimmy: Exactly. Strictly in the name of journalism. I got to see my co-workers naked (laughs). We won’t tell you who those people were.

Julie: Striking resemblance to Jimmy and [publisher] James [Ryu].

Ken: I’ve got one. This guy who used to help out at the magazine, he was so obsessed with ear pickers to clean ear wax out of your ear. I said, “I totally get it, but if you’re gonna do this story, it’s gotta be funny. You can’t do a very hard-hitting, serious story about ear picks.” And he got really upset and he did the story after I left.

Jimmy: Yeah, I read it. I never saw his original story. It became more of a fun kind of story about the different kinds of ear-pickers. [Koreans] are pretty innovative when it comes to some personal hygiene products so, you know, we had some fun with it, I guess.

In Part 2 of the roundtable discussion, former KoreAm editors talk about how they formed fun and creative columns, memorable feedback from readers, KoreAm‘s growing digital presence and what they learned most about the Korean American community during their tenures. Stay tuned!

Go to Part Two ->


This article was published in the April/May 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the April/May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 1.22.54 PM

France Chosen Over South Korea to Host FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

FIFA announced earlier today that France will host the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup instead of South Korea.

South Korea, France, England, New Zealand and South Africa initially expressed their interest in hosting the two events. However, the candidates were narrowed down to two countries last October, when France and South Korea submitted their official bid documents to FIFA.

Following a unanimous decision, the FIFA executive committee awarded the hosting rights to France, bringing the tournament back to Europe after Germany served as host in 2007.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is considered the most important international competition in women’s soccer, and it is the biggest single-sport event played by women. The championship has been held every four years since 1991, when its inaugural tournament took place in Guandong, China.

Canada will be hosting the 2015 championship from June 6 to July 5, 2015, with 24 teams competing.

Japan is the current champion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the first Asian team to achieve this feat. There have been six tournaments so far, with Germany and the U.S. being two-time champions.

You can watch the host country announcement below:


Subscribe to our daily newsletter


UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister to Invest in Korean Soccer League

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

Emirati billionaire Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as Sheikh Mansour, is holding talks with a South Korean conglomerate in an effort to expand his investments in professional soccer to the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean daily Segye Ilbo.

Sheikh Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is often referred to as the richest man in world soccer. He currently owns Manchester City, the English Premier League team, and has overseen its tremendous transformation into one of the world’s wealthiest teams since he purchased the club in 2008.

Now, Sheikh Mansour has reportedly been discussing a possibility in claiming a stake in a team included in the K League, South Korea’s professional soccer league. According to the Segye Ilbo, the 44-year-old petroleum tycoon has sent officials from Manchester City to South Korea to meet with Kang Ho-chan, the president of Nexen Tire, with the hopes of owning a majority share of a K League team.

The details of Sheikh Mansour’s possible investment is still under wraps, but Segye Ilbo‘s report hints that the ongoing discussions entail a potential partnership between Manchester City and Nexen Tire that would then purchase a share of an existing K League team.

The K League team Sheikh Mansour plans to purchase could be be his fifth venture in professional soccer. Manchester City has won two Premier League titles ever since Sheikh Mansour’s acquired ownership of the once struggling English team seven years ago. After seeing his investment pay off, the deputy prime minister of the UAE has since purchased 80 percent of the New York City FC and Australia’s Melbourne City FC, respectively, as well as 20 percent of Japan’s Yokohama Mariners.

If Sheikh Mansour’s deal to acquire a K League team comes to fruition, it’s possible that he could invest millions of dollars in a league that is currently deprived of financial resources to keep its star players. Many of South Korea’s key players on its national team have been signed by the more glamorous European clubs over the last decade. In recent years, even wealthier teams in neighboring China and oil-rich Middle Eastern teams have poached K League’s premier talents.

Case in point, only six players from South Korea’s 23-man roster at last year’s World Cup was playing in the domestic K League. One of those six players, forward Lee Keun-ho, who notched one goal and one assist in three games at the World Cup, has signed a lucrative deal with El Jaish in Qatar after the tournament.

It is believed that the motivation behind Sheikh Mansour’s strategy to tackle the Korean market stems from the substantial economic and marketing benefits Manchester City’s rival Manchester United reaped between 2005 and 2012. During those years, Manchester United won four English titles and two European championships with South Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung playing an integral part of the team’s success, scoring 27 goals in more than 200 games. Off the field, Manchester United capitalized on Park’s marketability in Korea with television rights, merchandise sales and also by allowing him to host a tour game in 2009 in Seoul.

Sheikh Mansour is the half brother of UAE’s current president, Sheikh Khalifa, and is the minister of presidential affairs and the chairman of private equity firm Abu Dhabi United Group.


Get our daily newsletter

AFC Asian Cup 2015

5 Reasons Why Team Korea Must Win the Asian Cup Final

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

After reaching the Asian Cup final for the first time in 27 years, South Korea’s national soccer team will now take on host Australia with the hopes of winning the coveted continental title.

South Korea last won the Asian Cup in 1960 when it was merely a four-team competition. Since then, the tournament has grown into a 16-team extravaganza. Averaging nearly 20,000 fans per game, the 2015 Asian Cup is on course to reach a record overall attendance of 650,000 as the final between Korea and the home team at Stadium Australia in Sydney, which seats 84,000 this Saturday at 1 a.m. PT, has already been sold out.

Here are five reasons why it would be amazing for Team Korea to finally win the Asian Cup:

1. Winning a continental championship on a six-game win streak would boost Korea’s currently abysmal ranking in world soccer.

The FIFA Coca Cola World Ranking   Ranking Table   FIFA.com

After failing to impress at the World Cup in Brazil last summer, South Korea’s nation soccer team’s ranking plummeted to an all-time low at 69th in the world, according to FIFA. Per FIFA’s ranking procedures, the best way for a team to climb up the ladder is to win games in continental tournaments, such as the Asian Cup, European Championships and Copa America.

If Korea beats Australia in the Asian Cup final, then its six-game winning streak will certainly guarantee a significantly higher place in the FIFA rankings when the new list is released in February.

2. As Asian champions, Korea would be sent to the Confederations Cup, where it would play against the world’s best teams a year ahead of the World Cup. 

confederations-cup-trophy-600x223Photo credit: WorldSoccerTalk.com

It isn’t always easy for national teams like Korea, with its limited funding, to arrange games against top class opponents to prepare for the World Cup. An Asian Cup title would solve this issue immediately at no cost, as continental champions are invited to compete in the Confederations Cup, a quadrennial tournament held a year before every World Cup.

If Korea wins the Asian Cup, it would earn an invaluable chance to play against the European and South American champions in 2017 as well as play in venues where the World Cup will take place the following year.

3. There is no better way to send off soon-to-be-retired veteran Cha Du-ri than making him an Asian champion in his last game for Korea. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 1.12.20 PMPhoto credit: Osen

Cha, a 34-year-old fullback who has represented Korea for the last 14 years, is set to retire from the national team after the Asian Cup. The bald-headed veteran was controversially left out of the team roster for last year’s World Cup, in which he took part as a color commentator for South Korean TV network SBS.

When Korea lost 4-2 to Algeria in the World Cup, Cha cried during the nationally televised broadcast and said, “I apologize to our players, because experienced players like me weren’t good enough to make the team. Our young players were forced to carry a burden that was just too heavy for them.”

Cha, who has since returned to the team, already assisted two vital goals for Korea in the Asian Cup, and will have a chance to avenge the disappointment of missing what could have been his third World Cup appearance.

4.  Team Korea has an opportunity for redemption after its embarrassment at the World Cup.

soccer-team-yeotPhoto credit: Yonhap

When the Korean players returned to the country last July after failing to win a game at the World Cup for the first time in 1998, some fans held a sign that read, “Korean soccer is dead,” and threw a barrage of yeot candy at them to express their disgust.

After beating Iraq in the Asian Cup semifinals, South Korean captain Ki Sung-yueng said, “The No. 1 reason we have to win this tournament is to restore our pride. We would feel hugely undone if we don’t win it at this point.”

Lifting the Asian Cup trophy for the first time in 55 years will surely be the best way for the team to recover the Korean people’s support and faith.

5. Korea’s national soccer players would gain immeasurable experience and a psychological boost if they become Asia’s best team with a depleted roster. 


With injuries to first-choice forwards, such as Kim Shin-wook and Lee Dong-gook, South Korea’s newly-appointed German head coach Uli Stielike was left to bank on Lee Jung-hyup, an inexperienced 22-year-old striker who hasn’t even been a starter for his K League club Sangju Sangmu.

Lee has been a revelation during the Asian Cup after scoring two game-winning goals for Korea, but the national team has suffered devastating blows since the start of the tournament, especially with two of its best players–Lee Chung-yong and Koo Ja-chael–ruled out with injuries.

While it’s true that the team would become much stronger once the injured players recover, winning the Asian Cup with a wounded team would serve as a badge of honor for Team Korea.


Featured image courtesy of AFCAsianCup.com

Get our daily newsletter


After Calling Japan “Easy,” Korean Soccer’s Whiz Kid Keeps His Word


Days before the quarterfinal game against Japan, South Korean soccer’s 16-year-old prodigy Lee Seung-woo said that the rival team is “easily beatable” because he said he felt that “a team at the level of Japan” couldn’t be all that difficult to topple.

In the pivotal game in which a berth in next year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup was at stake, Lee kept his word by lifting Korea’s under-16 national team past Japan with a 2-0 win. The stylish teenager, who scored both goals for Korea, demolished Japan’s defense with his individual skills and no shortage of swagger. After the game, even Lee’s opponents admitted that he was simply unplayable.

“It felt like we were outnumbered [when Lee had the ball],” said Tomiyasu Takehiro, Japan’s defender who was tasked with marking Lee during the game. “The only way to stop him was to commit the worst fouls possible. Our defense just couldn’t react.”

Japan began the game by playing its traditional short passing, possession soccer which kept Lee quietly isolated for much of the first half. But in the 42nd minute, Lee played a cheeky give-and-go pass with Kim Jung-min before scoring easily to give Korea the lead.

But it was Lee’s second goal of the game that showed just why he is touted by fans and media alike as Korea’s brightest ever prospect and perhaps also why the Spanish giants FC Barcelona signed the youngster three years ago when he was just 13 years old.

Lee collected the ball deep in South Korea’s defensive half, but in a matter of seconds, he left five Japanese defenders in dust and even dribbled past the goalkeeper to score on an open net at the other end of the field.

“Our tactic was to defend and then attack because we have a genius player in Lee Seung-woo,” Korean head coach Choi Jin-cheul said, according to Asian Football Confederation’s official website. “When he plays and trains all the other players look at him and follow him so he enhances our playing style as he is good for the other players.”

Since 2011, Lee has been dazzling in the youth ranks of Barcelona, Spain’s iconic professional soccer team. Over the years, Barcelona has produced some of the world’s best players, including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, through its renowned youth academy, famously named La Masia, which literally translates to “farmhouse” in Spanish. Barcelona signed Lee after spotting him in an international youth tournament in South Africa in 2010.

In Europe, it is the professional sports teams that progressively develop young athletes by operating youth teams for different age groups, unlike in the U.S., where student-athletes represent their respective academic institutions until they’re old and talented enough to play professionally. Although the European system is comparable to Major League Baseball’s farm system in the U.S., the age group for youth soccer teams in Europe start from children as young as 4 or 5 years old.

At Barcelona’s youth academy at which Lee is considered as one of the best up-and-coming talents, only a few players who graduate the development program eventually make its senior team. But although some graduates may not make the cut at the senior level for Barcelona, many who show enough talent to graduate its academy have gone on to other top teams in Europe to establish respectable careers. Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta couldn’t find a place in Barcelona’s senior team after graduating from La Masia in 2001, but he now plays for Arsenal, one of the best teams in Europe and England.

Photo courtesy of Asian Football Confederation


3 Things We Learned From Korea’s 1-0 Loss To Uruguay

South Korean national soccer team played a pair of games this past week, its first games since crashing out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June without a win.

Playing against Venezuela and Uruguay, Korea split the two-game series with a convincing 3-1 win against Venezuela before suffering a 1-0 loss to the Uruguayans. Mixed results aside, Korea’s performances were much improved from its abysmal effort at the World Cup earlier in the summer, despite playing both games without a head coach, the recently appointed Uli Stielike. Shin Tae-yong, the soon-to-be assistant coach for Stielike, led the team.

Here are three things we learned from the new-look Korean national team.

Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng, the only two players who impressed at the World Cup for Korea, are still the heart and soul of the team. The importance of these two was best exemplified in the 68th minute against Uruguay when Ki hit a marvelous 50-yard pass from deep in Korea’s half to find Son, who beat the opposing defense’s offside trap to break free for a clear chance on goal. Son’s shot was saved by the Uruguayan goalkeeper, but the play showed exactly why the two players are the backbone of their team. Ki’s ability to spray passes from deep, combined with Son’s speed to get to the end of those balls could serve as Korea’s No. 1 weapon as it aims to win the Asian Cup in January for the first time in 55 years.

Post by 아이러브사커.

Korea is more tactically flexible than many thought. One of the things that stood out at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer was that there was not a true tactical trend unlike the previous World Cups. Each of the successful team played to its own strength and found success. For example, although the 4-2-3-1 formation has been the norm in modern soccer over the last decade, Holland made it to the semifinals by playing its exhilarating counterattacking soccer with a 3-4-3, while Costa Rica’s defensive solidity with a 5-3-2 made it the surprise team of the tournament. Meanwhile, Chile was one of the most entertaining teams to watch with its attack-minded 3-5-2 formation. A large part of Korea’s failure could be attributed to it being hellbent on the traditional 4-2-3-1, but against Uruguay, the team played variations of 3-4-3 and 3-6-1 and held its own versus the world’s sixth best team, according to FIFA.

Lee Dong-gook, the 36-year-old veteran forward who missed out on the opportunity to play at the World Cup in Brazil, could still be serviceable for Korea, but not as a permanent starter. There’s no question that Lee is a prolific scorer. He has scored over 160 goals in the domestic K-League and over 30 goals for the national team. His physical presence and lethal shooting ability in and around the opponent’s penalty box make him one of Korea’s greatest goalscorers of all-time. But it’s his lack of lateral speed and off-the-ball movement that have failed him against top opponents with elite defenses, which explains why he had a quite game against Uruguay’s stingy defense after scoring two goals against the Venezuelan team that’s more vulnerable defensively. Lee is a perfect fit for Korea when its gameplan is to proactively attack opponents, but he still seems out of place and isolated up front during games in which Korea’s main focus is to defend first and attack second.


5 Things You Should Know About Uli Stielike, SKorea’s New Soccer Coach


When the Korea Football Association (KFA) unveiled Uli Stielike from Germany as head coach of South Korea’s national team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the fans and media alike began asking the same question: “Who?!”

Here are five things you should know about the 59-year-old man who will lead South Korean soccer’s quest for the World Cup in 2018 after its massive failure in Brazil this past summer.

Stielike was easily one of the world’s best players in his generation.

A playmaking central defender, Stielike played for Borussia Monchengladbach–a German powerhouse in the 70s–from 1972 to 1977, winning three German league titles. He then moved to Europe’s winningest club of all-time, Real Madrid of Spain, where he won three Spanish league titles. The deep-lying playmaker, known for his high “soccer IQ,” was also the centerpiece of the German national team that won the 1980 European Championship. To this day, Stielike remains as one of very few players who’ve played in the finals of the World Cup, European Championship and European Cup (now known as the Champions League).

Unfortunately, Stielike has little to no competitive coaching experience.

He started his coaching career in 1989 as the head coach of the Swiss national team, but left two years later with no notable accomplishments. He then bounced around the second divisions of German and Spanish leagues before becoming an assistant coach for the German national team from 1998 to 2000, a period known as the “dark age” for German soccer. Between 2001 to 2006, he coached Germany’s youth national teams of various age groups. Since then, he coached briefly in Switzerland before working with two different professional teams in Qatar over three years. He has been out of coaching since 2012. Stielike doesn’t possess any notable winning pedigree as a coach and has no experience in coaching a team in a competitive environment, such as the World Cup. That’s a concern for Korea, as its ultimate goal is to redeem itself four years later from this past summer’s disastrous World Cup campaign.

“Stielike’s only coaching experience was in Qatar over the last six years,” said Hyunmin Kim, Goal.com Korea‘s German soccer columnist. “He has been away from European soccer for a long time, so it’s hard to determine how well he has kept up with the rapid pace of modern soccer’s development in recent years.”

5514Uli Stielike playing for Germany

But Stielike has firsthand experience in revamping and developing Germany’s modern national team program, which today is considered as the best in the world.

German soccer’s rise over the last decade began when the German Football Association (DFB) decided to plow through its youth development model for all ages to re-brand German soccer’s image. Until then, the Germans were notorious for their rigid, physical style of play, which evidently hit a dead end when the national team crashed out of the first round at the 2000 European Championships. Stielike was hired to oversee youngsters who could potentially represent Germany in the future. His job over the next six years entailed coaching Germany’s under-19, under-20 and under-21 national teams. Some players who played under Stielike’s guidance during his six year stint include Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, all of whom were part of Germany’s World Cup winning side in Brazil this year.

“Stielike took over Germany’s youth teams while the national team was struggling,” said Goal.com’s Kim, who lived in Germany during the early and mid-2000s and followed Stielike’s teams. “He served as the coach who bridged the gap between a struggling team and talented young players, like Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Mertesacker and Podolski. Those are the players that opened the floodgate and started Germany’s golden generation.”

Stielike had his chance to coach at the World Cup in 2010, but his dreams were shattered when his son abruptly died two years before the tournament.

The closest Stielike came to coaching a national team at the World Cup came in 2006 when he became the head coach of Ivory Coast, a juggernaut of a team from Africa led by Didier Drogba, who was one of the best forwards in the world at the time. Stielike may have dreamed of leading the team of talented young players to the 2010 World Cup, but sadly, he left the team in January 2008 when his son, Michael, became ill with a respiratory disease and died a month later. Stielike returned to Ivory Coast in March, but he soon left the team after his contract wasn’t renewed.

It was Stielike’s willingness to commit to the growth of South Korean soccer at all levels that convinced the KFA to hire him.

Many qualified coaches around the league expressed their interest in coaching the Korean national team, but the challenge for the KFA was to find a coach who’s committed to helping Korean soccer grow at all levels, not exclusive to producing results at the World Cup four years later. Bert van Marwijk, a renowned Dutch coach, was in pole position to land the job last month, but the deal fell through when he demanded a two-year contract instead of four and that he maintains his residence in Holland throughout the term. On the other hand, Stielike promised to re-locate to Korea with his wife. He also agreed to expand his role beyond coaching the national team and lead seminars for coaches around the country and hold clinics for young soccer players over the next four years.


NKorea In World Cup Final, Says Fake News Clip That Further Distorts Public View Of Country


On Saturday, YouTube channel Korea News Backup posted what appeared to be a North Korean news clip of its national team advancing to the World Cup finals to face Portugal. Several news sites even initially reported that the video is an official North Korean state broadcast. The absurdity of the content (um, North Korea didn’t qualify for this year’s tournament), coupled with the public’s oh-those-crazy-North-Koreans view, was enough to make the video go viral. So far, it’s generated more than 5 million views.

In the clip, a female anchor takes viewers through North Korea’s historic run in the tournament. Apparently, the national team first advanced out of the group stage as the number one seed after beating China 2:0. Conveniently, North Korea then goes on to blow out the U.S. and Japan to finally face Portugal. Edited footage of Brazilian fans cheering for North Korea’s victory and its supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, was also shown.

Though we can’t confirm 100-percent, it’s very, very likely that the segment is fake.

Yahoo Sports points out that the anchor’s dialect is wrong and her voice is not in synch with her lips. More convincingly, The Telegraph reported around a month ago that North Korean citizens are actually able to watch the World Cup games, even though some games may be shown after a 24-hour delay. In its report, one North Korean viewer comments that although North Korea did not qualify, he was curious to see other national teams play.

Of course, such details don’t quite fit the simplistic narrative of North Korea as a “hermit kingdom.” With such a lack of information coming out of the closed society, even the most bizarre stories are often reported at face value.