Friday, December 18, 2009

What would you do if....

I just read this article from the New York Times discussing the coach selection for the North Korean soccer team getting ready for 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I was surprised yesterday when a friend of mine who's really into soccer told me, not only did South Korea make it into the finals, but so did North Korea, for the first time since 1966.

North Korea has approached Phillipe Troussier, a French coach who coached Japan in the 2002 World cup, not to mention many other teams around the world.

Now, this is the question. What would you do if North Korea asked you to be their soccer coach? North Korea, the rouge nation who's plane was just searched in Thailand and was found to be carrying illicit weapons that they suspect were to be delivered to other rouge nations almost certainly for some sort of nefarious business. Who is under many sanctions by the UN for it's missile testing. Who has some of the worst human rights records in the world. Would it be wrong to accept the job?

There is an upside to this job, though. Well, besides the money, which I'm sure would be good. Not to mention the opportunity to coach a World Cup soccer team. But that's not what would be first on my list (probably because I am not a soccer coach). Can you imagine being able to get into North Korea and have a somewhat real experience with real North Koreans? Granted, he'd probably never see the other side of North Korea... the starvation, the prisons, the average people on the street. But, no one gets to see that.

If I were offered this job, I don't think I could turn it down for that reason only. Sure, some people may criticize me for accepting to work for one of the most "evil" countries (quoth Bush) on the planet. But how many people have gotten inside for real?? And I don't think Bill Clinton counts...


  1. Interesting dilemma. I think it'd be far easier for a French person to do it than an American, assuming an American would ever be invited in the first place. The French guy isn't likely to be hounded for being an imperialist.

    Of course you're right to bring up the example of working for the US government, which has caused more death and destruction in the world the last half-century than North Korea.

    I think I'd turn it down, though, both b/c of politics and because of lifestyle. Can you imagine how lonely it'd be there? Not simply b/c he'd be perhaps the only French guy there. Getting SOUTH Koreans to open up and honestly talk about things is hard enough . . . I don't know if I could take the North's version.

  2. Sports should be above politics--or rather, sports should make politics rise above itself. It is through sports first that we are often able to "win hearts and minds."

    Remember, it was only as South Korea prepared to host the Olympics that a true democracy with legitimate popular election of national leaders was formed here.