North Korea national football team

The North Korea national football team (Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국 축구 국가대표팀, recognized as Korea DPR by FIFA)[4] represents North Korea in men's international football and it is controlled by the DPR Korea Football Association, the governing body for Football in North Korea. The team represents both FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Korea DPR
AssociationDPR Korea Football Association
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationEAFF (East Asia)
Head coachYun Jong-su
CaptainJong Il-gwan
Most capsRi Myong-guk (118)
Top scorerJong Il-gwan (26)
Home stadiumKim Il-sung Stadium
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 109 (27 May 2021)[2]
Highest57 (November 1993)
Lowest181 (October – November 1998)
First international
North Korea 1–0 China PR 
(Beijing, China; 7 October 1956)[3]
Biggest win
North Korea 21–0 Guam 
(Taipei, Taiwan; 11 March 2005)
Biggest defeat
 Portugal 7–0 North Korea
(Cape Town, South Africa; 21 June 2010)
World Cup
Appearances2 (first in 1966)
Best resultQuarter-finals, 1966
Asian Cup
Appearances5 (first in 1980)
Best resultFourth place, 1980
AFC Challenge Cup
Appearances3 (first in 2008)
Best resultChampions, 2010 and 2012
EAFF E-1 Football Championship
Appearances4 (first in 2005)
Best resultThird place, 2005 and 2015
Medal record
Asian Games
1978 Thailand Team
1990 China Team
East Asian Games
1993 Shanghai
North Korea national football team
Revised RomanizationJoseon Minjujuui Inmin Gonghwaguk Chukgu Gukga Daepyo Tim
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Minjujuǔi Mingonghwaguk Ch'ukgu Kukka Taep'yo T'im
Revised RomanizationJoseon Minjujuui Inmin Gonghwaguk Gukga Jonghap Tim
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Minjujuǔi Inmin Konghwaguk Kukka Chonghap T'im

North Korea surprised with a good showing at their World Cup debut, reaching the quarter-finals in 1966, beating Italy in the group stage, being the first Asian team in history to make it past the group stage. During the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers, controversy arose when the team's supporters rioted, interfering with the opponents' safe egress from the stadium, because of North Korea's failure to qualify. In 2009, the team qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the second World Cup appearance in their history. North Korea has qualified for the AFC Asian Cup five times; in 1980, when they finished fourth, in 1992, 2011, in 2015, and in 2019. The current team is composed of both native North Koreans and Chongryon-affiliated Koreans born in Japan.



Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1  North Korea 2 2 0 0 9 2 +7 4
2  Australia 2 0 0 2 2 9 7 0
 South Africa (D) 0 0
 South Korea (W) 0 0
(D) Disqualified; (W) Withdrew

1976 Olympic football tournament

The North Korea football team finished second in their group in the 1976 Summer Olympics, but lost 5–0 to Poland in the quarter-finals.[7]

1982 Asian Games

Upon losing in the semi-finals at the Asian Games, the team's bronze medal match with Saudi Arabia was scratched and the later awarded the bronze medal 2–0 after the North Korean team (including officials and competitors from other sports) were handed a two-year suspension for assaulting the referee, Vijit Getkaew of Thailand, and his linesman following the conclusion of their semi-final against Kuwait.

2006 World Cup qualifying stage controversy

In March 2005, the North Korean team was playing against Iran in Pyongyang when North Korean fans became enraged when the referee failed to award North Korea a penalty kick after a controversial incident near the end of the match. Demanding a penalty, the North Korean footballers rushed Syrian referee Mohamed Kousa, who instead gave a North Korean player a red card. Bottles, stones and chairs were thrown onto the field following the play. After the match was over, North Korean fans refused to let the Iranian team leave the stadium on their team bus. The violence was so severe that riot police forced back the crowd.[8] Following this incident, North Korea lost its right to host the subsequent home match with Japan and the game was instead played behind closed doors in Bangkok, Thailand.[9]


The North Korea football team qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup after finishing 2nd place in Group B of Asian qualifying.[10] Their finishing place was not decided until the day of the last fixture of the group, in which they needed not only to avoid defeat in a match against Saudi Arabia, but also relied on Iran losing to South Korea. After the Koreans scored the same number of points as Saudi Arabia, North Korea qualified through goal difference.[11][12] With a final pre-tournament FIFA ranking of 105th in the world, North Korea was the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the World Cup since the rankings began in 1993.

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 South Korea 8 4 4 0 12 4 +8 16
 North Korea 8 3 3 2 7 5 +2 12
 Saudi Arabia 8 3 3 2 8 8 0 12
 Iran 8 2 5 1 8 7 +1 11
 United Arab Emirates 8 0 1 7 6 17 11 1


The North Korean and Brazilian teams in 2010
North Korea playing against Brazil in the 2010 World Cup

2010 was North Korea's first appearance at the World Cup since 1966.[13] The draw placed North Korea in Group G. They played their first match against five-time winners Brazil on 15 June. Despite playing close, they were nevertheless outmatched and lost 1–2. In their next game against Portugal on 21 June, they were defeated 0–7. Despite starting well (as against Brazil), their defensive and well organised approach unravelled after Portugal scored on them. The Koreans lost their final match against Ivory Coast 0–3 on 25 June. Having lost all three group matches, they were knocked out, finishing at the bottom of Group G. It was reported that the small contingency of apparent North Korean football fans were actually Chinese people who bought tickets reserved for North Korean government officials.[14] North Korea subsequently denied the report, and claimed instead that the Chinese were small in number, and that the regime had permitted their travel.[15]

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Brazil 3 2 1 0 5 2 +3 7 Advance to knockout stage
2  Portugal 3 1 2 0 7 0 +7 5
3  Ivory Coast 3 1 1 1 4 3 +1 4
4  North Korea 3 0 0 3 1 12 11 0
Source: FIFA
Rules for classification: Tie-breaking criteria
Brazil 2–1 North Korea
Maicon  55'
Elano  72'
Report Ji Yun-Nam  89'
Attendance: 54,331
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

Portugal 7–0 North Korea
Meireles  29'
Simão  53'
Almeida  56'
Tiago  60', 89'
Liédson  81'
Ronaldo  87'
Attendance: 63,644
Referee: Pablo Pozo (Chile)

North Korea 0–3 Ivory Coast
Report Y. Touré  14'
Romaric  20'
Kalou  82'
Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Attendance: 34,763
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

Post-World Cup

North Korea failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the team losing to Uzbekistan and Japan. North Korea also failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, when the team suffered an unexpected defeat to the Philippines in the final game of the second round. A win would have ensured North Korea to progress as one of four best runners-up behind Uzbekistan; instead, North Korea missed out in favor of China.

North Korea on the time secured their participation in three consecutive Asian Cups, the 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions. However, North Korea performed poorly in both tournaments: North Korea obtained only one point in the 2011 edition, a goalless draw against the United Arab Emirates, and had suffered eight consecutive game losses in the tournament following the draw. In that shortcoming era, North Korea appointed the country's first foreign manager since 1993, when Norway-born Jørn Andersen coached North Korea. He was fired despite the team managing to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.

All Time Results

The following table shows North Korea's all-time international record, correct as of 1 Jan 2021.

Against Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA

Recent results and fixtures


March 2021 (2021-03) 2022 FWC Q North Korea  cancelled  Sri Lanka Pyongyang, North Korea
Stadium: Kim Il-sung Stadium
June 2021 (2021-06) 2022 FWC Q South Korea  cancelled  North Korea Seoul, South Korea
Stadium: Seoul World Cup Stadium
June 2021 (2021-06) 2022 FWC Q North Korea  cancelled  Turkmenistan Pyongyang, North Korea
Stadium: Kim Il-sung Stadium

Competitive record

Asian Games

Football at the Asian Games has been an under-23 tournament since 2002.
Asian Games record
Year Result GP W D* L GS GA
1951Did not enter
1974Fourth place7313118
1982Fourth place622298
1986Did not enter
1994Did not enter
199813th place412168
2002–present See North Korea national under-23 football team

AFC Challenge Cup record

AFC Challenge Cup Finals
Year Result Pld W D* L GF GA
2006Did not enter
2008Third place540191
2014Did not enter
TotalBest: Champions151221354

East Asian Cup

EAFF East Asian Cup record Preliminary round
Year Result Position GP W D L GF GA GP W D L GF GA
2005Third place3rd311112 4400310
2008Fourth place4th302135 2200141
2010Did not qualify 3210113
2013 4310162
2015Third place3rd311123 321072
2017Fourth place4th321073 330050
2019Did not qualify 321061
TotalBest: Third place4/8124531313221840909

Dynasty Cup

Dynasty Cup record
Year Result Position GP W D L GF GA
1990Third place3rd301213
1992Third place3rd302147
1995Did not enter
TotalBest: Third place2/46033510

Coaching staff

Position Name Nationality
Head coach Yun Jong-su  North Korean
Assistant coach Kim Yong-jun  North Korean
Assistant coach Rim Kuk-uk  North Korean
Assistant coach Pak Kyong-chol  North Korean
Team analyst Choe Chol-bom  North Korean
Interpreter Kim Chung-jin  North Korean
Massage therapist Ri Song-chol  North Korean
Team coordinator Jong Tae-hyok  North Korean
Doctor Hong Myong-song  North Korean
Video analyst Kim In-chol  North Korean
Technical director Choe Myong-il  North Korean


Current squad

The following 23 players were selected for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Turkmenistian and Lebanon on 14 and 19 November 2019, respectively.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
23 1GK Ri Kwang-il (1988-04-13) 13 April 1988 7 0 Sobaeksu
1 1GK An Tae-song (1993-10-21) 21 October 1993 6 0 April 25
21 1GK Sin Hyok (1992-07-03) 3 July 1992 1 0 Kigwancha

3 2DF Jang Kuk-chol (1994-02-16) 16 February 1994 62 5 Hwaebul
13 2DF Sim Hyon-jin (1991-01-01) 1 January 1991 41 2 April 25
16 2DF Pak Myong-song (1994-03-31) 31 March 1994 23 0 April 25
6 2DF Kim Chol-bom (1994-07-16) 16 July 1994 23 0 April 25
2 2DF Ri Thong-il (1992-11-20) 20 November 1992 10 1 Kigwancha
17 2DF Ri Chang-ho (1990-01-04) 4 January 1990 7 0 Hwaebul
18 2DF Ri Yong-chol (1991-01-08) 8 January 1991 5 0 Hwaebul
5 2DF Hong Jin-song (1994-02-22) 22 February 1994 3 0 Unattached

11 3MF Jong Il-gwan (captain) (1992-10-30) 30 October 1992 76 26 Rimyongsu
15 3MF Ri Un-chol (1995-07-13) 13 July 1995 25 1 Sonbong
12 3MF Ri Yong-jik (1991-02-08) 8 February 1991 23 1 Tokyo Verdy
8 3MF Han Thae-hyok (1988-06-20) 20 June 1988 6 0 Kigwancha
10 3MF Kim Kum-chol (1997-04-07) 7 April 1997 5 0 Rimyongsu
19 3MF Song Jong-hyok (1995-06-28) 28 June 1995 3 0 Hwaebul
4 3MF Choe Song-hyok (1998-02-28) 28 February 1998 2 0 Unattached

9 4FW Pak Kwang-ryong (1992-09-27) 27 September 1992 41 14 St. Pölten
14 4FW Kim Yong-il (1994-07-06) 6 July 1994 19 1 Kigwancha
7 4FW Han Kwang-song (1998-09-11) 11 September 1998 10 1 Al-Duhail
20 4FW Pak Hyon-il (1993-09-21) 21 September 1993 8 2 Amnokgang
22 4FW Choe Ju-song (1996-01-27) 27 January 1996 6 0 Amnokgang

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up to the North Korea squad within the last twelve months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up


As of 19 November 2019[18]
Players in bold are still active with North Korea.


  • Nehru Cup
Champions (1): 1993
  • Hero Intercontinental Cup
Champions (1): 2019
  • AFC Challenge Cup
Champions (2): 2010, 2012
  • Asian Games
Champions (1):1978

Kit providers

Since 2014, North Korea's official kit provider is currently produced by the North Korean sports company Choeusu.[19]

Period Kit Provider
1948–1992 Admiral
1992–2002 Fila
2002–2003 Lotto
2003–2005 Adidas
2005–2006 Umbro
2006–2008 Hummel
2008–2010 ERKE
2010–2014 Legea
2014–present Choeusu

See also

  • Football in North Korea
  • North Korea–South Korea football rivalry
  • The Game of Their Lives (2002 film)


  1. Montague, James (12 December 2017). "Inside the Secret World of Football in North Korea". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  2. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 27 May 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  3. North Korea matches, ratings and points exchanged
  4. "World Cup 2010 team guide: North Korea". BBC News. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. "When Middlesbrough hosted the 1966 World Cup Koreans". BBC News. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  6. "The Game of their Lives". BBC News. Archived from the original on 3 September 2010.
  7. "XXI. Olympiad Montreal 1976 Football Tournament". 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  8. "N Korea football violence erupts". BBC News. 30 March 2005. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  9. Peck, Grant (6 July 2005). "No fans allowed at Japan, North Korea qualifying match". USA Today. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  10. "North Korea qualify for World Cup". BBC News. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  11. "World Cup guide – North Korea". BBC News. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  12. "Groups and Standings". FIFA. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  13. "North Korea revive World Cup memories". BBC News. 15 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  14. Holton, Kate (15 June 2010). "Chinese 'volunteer army' arrive to back North Korea". Reuters. Pretoria, South Africa. Retrieved 13 July 2010. Indicating only that Chinese supporters of North Korea were present, but not necessarily excluding North Korean fans.
  15. Frayer, Lauren (16 June 2010). "Diplomats: North Korean Soccer Fans Are Genuine". Aol News. Cape Town, South Africa. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  16. "South Korea: North Koreans pull out of World Cup qualifying". AP NEWS. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  17. "Latest update on Asian Qualifiers". Asian Football Confederation. 16 May 2021.
  18. Mamrud, Roberto. "North Korea - Record International Players". RSSSF.
  19. "Home-made Football Popular among DPRK People". KCNA. 1 July 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
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