SHANGHAI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - North and South Korea, states technically still at war, drew 1-1 on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying match moved to Shanghai for political reasons.
Soccer's world governing body FIFA last month moved the
match, which was originally scheduled to take place in
Pyongyang, because the North refused to play the South's anthem
and raise the flag of its foe at a stadium in its capital.
North Korea struck first in the Asian Group Two game when
Hong Yong-jo converted a penalty awarded in the 64th minute
after a foul in the area by South Korean captain Kim Nam-il.
South Korea equalised five minutes later when Ki Sung-yueng
controlled a long pass on his chest and then slid a low shot
past diving North Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-guk.
The result left North Korea top of the group with four
points from two matches after they won 2-1 away to United Arab
Emirates in their first group match last week.
South Korea are second with a point after one match. United
Arab Emirates host Saudi Arabia in the group later on Wednesday.
South Korea were without forward Park Ji-sung because his
club Manchester United would not release him for international
duty, fearing he could aggravate a lingering knee injury.
The stadium in Shanghai was mostly empty.
North Korea, as the home team, tripled some ticket prices
compared to an earlier qualifier played in the same stadium so
they could keep out opposition fans based in the Chinese city
for business and to study, South Korean soccer officials said.
The two Koreas, whose 1950-53 war ended in a ceasefire and
not a peace treaty, had already played out two goalless draws in
the third round of Asian qualifying. The match set for Pyongyang
in March was also moved to Shanghai for political reasons.
South Korea, looking for a seventh straight trip to the
World Cup finals, played the anthem of its Cold War rival and
raised its flag when the North came to Seoul in June.
The top two in the two groups that make up the fourth round
of Asian qualifying earn places in the 2010 finals in South
Africa, with another spot available to the fifth-placed team if
they can overcome Oceania champions New Zealand in a playoff.
Analysts said the North's communist ideology could not allow
for a patriotic display by South Koreans in its capital when it
has been telling the masses its capitalist neighbours yearn for
unification under the North's communist banner.
"The biggest weakness or the Achilles heal on their whole
world view is that the South Koreans are proud of their own
state and do not want to live under Kim Jong-il," said Brian
Myers, a specialist in the North's state ideology at Dongseo
University in the South.
"As soon as they allow South Korean fans to come to North
Korea and cheer for their own team and wave their own flags,,
the North Korean leaders come under pressure to explain that to
their own people."