[imText1]The Daily NK can reveal that the roughly one hundred North Korea supporters at the North Korea v Brazil football match on Tuesday night were North Koreans already in Africa earning foreign currency for the state.
A Daily NK source in China explained more, “The people who were mobilized for cheering were workers from ‘Overseas Construction Company’ and the Mansudae Art Institute. They are all in Africa generating foreign currency.”
“Overseas Construction Company” is a government department managing personnel and their lives on construction projects abroad. North Korea has several hundred such people in African countries.
The Mansudae Art Institute earns foreign currency producing statues and other public works of art in countries such as Namibia, Angola, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, and most recently the 164-foot high, $27 million “Monument to the African Renaissance” in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, which was unveiled in April this year.
A second source explained the background to their presence. “North Korea planned to send a large cheering group from Pyongyang,” he said, “but it was cancelled due to problems of cost and difficulties regulating them on site.”
After the authorities cancelled the original plan, they attempted to sell the 65 free tickets they received from FIFA for each of North Korea’s games through overseas offices. However, that also failed.
The source explained, “The authorities attempted to sell them through Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) and other foreign agents, but no one wanted to buy. Who wants to go South Africa only to see the North Korea games?”
The authorities were reportedly asking $169 per ticket.
Contradicting The Daily NK’s sources, Yonhap released an interview with one of the group, Sunwoo Ryong, today. In it, he claimed, “About 100 of us arrived here two days ago. We’re all from Pyongyang and are regular workers that volunteered.”
According to Yonhap, the group refused to reveal any further information about how they came to be in Johannesburg, but did say they intend to be at every one of the North’s matches.