Bend It Like Jong

Japan's North Korean-born football superstar

Bend It Like Jong He proudly represented North Korea in the world cup. Yet Jong Tae Se was born and raised in Japan. He represents a 600 000 strong community of Korean descendents for whom Kim Jong-Il can do no wrong.

"I respect Kim Jong-il absolutely", the football star proudly states. But Jong has never known the true horrors of life under his revered leader. He is one of thousands of Korean descendants living in urban modernity in Japan, educated at North Korean funded schools with a strictly Kim-friendly syllabus. "We teach that he is the highest leader of modern North Korea", the headmaster of one such school says. Standing in contrast to this adoration however there are many Koreans in Japan who returned to North Korea to find only pain and death. Li Sang Bong knew as soon he stepped off the boat that the place advertised "as paradise on Earth was a downright lie". For those who have survived the horrors of the prison-like country, it is a "heartless place" and Jong is nothing more than a symbol of sadness.
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