German views of Korea are always worth a listen, and will be for the foreseeable future. After all, Germany knows all about national division and dealing with communist legacies, and a thing or two about Marxism and dictatorship as well. And, for a country with less than one-third the population of the United States, Germany has got a press to die for. That is, the German press is simply protean, and in its coverage of the World Cup, even more aggressive and prolix than usual.
Rather than translating a bunch of excerpts, I’ll let your fingers do the walking over a series of articles and resources that I think are particularly good:
Christof Biermann’s article on the business aspect of the DPRK squad, and about the 62-year old Swiss capitalist who has purchased the transfer rights of North Korea’s best players;
Lars Langenau’s “Arbeitsnest der Kommunisten” contains a piquant analysis of the North Korean national anthem at the Cup;
Javier Cáceres’ “Kim ist nicht gleich Kim,” a short but most insightful article into the connection between football and the North Korean dictatorship;
Standout veteran Asia reporter Heinrik Bork’s article on the North Korean superstar, Jong Tae Se, entitled “Für Diktator und Vaterland,” whose title I think you can figure out;
and Bernhard Bratsch’s “Imagepolitik” article on the optics of the North Korean team.
Holger Gertz published a fantastic article on 18 June 2010 dissecting the North Korean press conference; it’s not available online but I at one time had a paper copy in my hands (as you can imagine, I am swimming joyously in much print material while in this printer’s paradise of Berlin, die ein verlaghimmlischer Stadt sind) am endeavoring to find another copy as I learned an number of exciting new vocabulary words from it such as:
die Aufstellung — the lineup — 提名 — as in, “Is it true that Kim Jong Il sets the team’s lineup?”
klopfen — to tap– 拍打 — as in, “The FIFA representative nervously taps his finger on the table”
staendig — long-standing — 常设的 —
kleben — to stick, affix — 粘贴 —
and let’s not forget the description of Jang Sae Te as having a “Nussenkrackerkiefer” which means a “Nutcrackerjaw” — 核桃夹颌
Finally, there’s an old but solid article about market activity taking place in spite of the regime, with some interest in the mobile phone users in the northern border areas of the DPRK, by Wolfgang Leuf.
As a side note, having finally spent some time in London and chatted up one of its finest crafters of op-ed (that being Martin Jacques), I would wish to remind readers that the Guardian’s China page is among the best in the business, and worth bookmarking.