WORLD CUP : North Koreans congratulate South Korea on World Cup win

Gwangju, June 14 :

South Korea received congratulations from rival North Korea on Wednesday for its opening World Cup win over Togo.

Arriving in the South Korean city of Gwangju for a celebration marking the sixth anniversary of the first-and-only North-South summit, North Korean officials praised South Korea’s 2-1 defeat of Togo on Tuesday, marking the South’s first World Cup win outside of Korea. South Korea, making it’s sixth consecutive World Cup appearance, reached the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, which it co-hosted with Japan. It failed to win a game before 2002.

“I am very pleased to come to Gwangju and congratulate your national team’s victory in yesterday’s match against Togo,” An Kyong Ho, the head of North Korean civilian delegation, said, according to his South Korean counterpart Paik Nak-chung. Kim Young Dae, leading the North Korean government delegation, also voiced hope that South Korea will advance to the World Cup final and said his country will root for the South Korean team, according to pool reports.

South Korea relays broadcasts of World Cup matches to the isolated communist country at the North’s request, but the games weren’t being shown live there. North Korea reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1966, but failed to qualify for this year’s event.

The two Koreas are holding events this week to mark the anniversary of a Pyongyang summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that launched historic reconciliation between the foes who fought the 1950-53 Korean War — which ended in a cease-fire that persists today.