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Monday, January 23, 2006
Busan say An Yong-hak signing is no marketing ploy

SEOUL, Jan 23 (Reuters) - South Korea's Busan I'Park say signing North Korea midfielder An Yong-hak is more than just a publicity ploy and believes the player will strengthen the K-League club.

Busan, who finished bottom of the K-League last year after failing to win any of their 12 matches, bought An from Japanese team Nagoya Grampus Eight last week for an undisclosed sum.

'An will help us, not only to publicise the team, but I am certain he will be a player who can also strengthen the team,' club president Lee Joon-ha said in a statement.

Another Busan official said last week he thought a North Korean player would be a draw in the South, which remains technically at war with its communist neighbour since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

An took part in North Korea's unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign while in the J-League he played in 115 matches and scored seven goals.

'I've gone through the joy and hardships of J-League, and with this chance, I would also like to experience the K-League,' An was quoted saying in the statement.

'I think it meaningful for me to play in South Korea, which is also the home of my grandfather,' he said.

North Korea have taken part in the World Cup finals once, in England in 1966, while South Korea will be competing in their sixth successive finals tournament in Germany later this year.

K-League official Yang Tae-oh has said there had only been one other North Korean to sign for a K-League club but said the unnamed player did not play a competitive match.

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