Pyongyang cuts Jungkook’s song at World Cup opening
North Korea’s delayed broadcast of the 2022 Qatar World Cup opening ceremony omitted BTS member Jungkook’s performance.
The North rarely broadcasts major international sporting events live, instead showing only shortened versions or snippets of matches.
The editing out of Jungkook singing “Dreamers” — a song recorded as part of a promotional album for the 2022 World Cup — from the hour-long Monday broadcast of Sunday’s opening ceremony confirms that Pyongyang’s state media doesn’t want anything shown domestically that makes Seoul look good.
While the state-controlled Korean Central Television (KCTV) has aired game highlights from the English Premier League since 2014, South Korean professional footballer and Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min is never clearly visible in its edited footage of matches, despite his winning the Premier League Golden Boot in May.
It remains to be seen whether the North’s censorship of individual South Koreans from its international sports coverage will be extended to exclude the South Korean national team’s matches altogether.
After airing a total of less than three minutes from the tournament’s inaugural match between Qatar and Ecuador a day later on Monday, KCTV broadcast shortened, hour-long versions of Monday’s matches on Tuesday.
But on Wednesday, the state television channel did not air any footage from the Tuesday match between the United States and Wales, nor from the game between Mexico and Poland the same day.
According to Oh Gyeong-seob, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, Pyongyang’s process for choosing what to air from the World Cup is not entirely clear, but it is likely that the state of the North’s external relations weighs on decisions to broadcast matches featuring teams from its foes.
“Given the current inter-Korean stand-off, I imagine it would not be easy for Pyongyang to air footage of the South Korean team’s game, especially since the North Korean team failed to advance to the group stage of the tournament.”
He speculated that it could become even harder for the regime to release footage of South Korea’s matches if the South Korean team performs well.
After North Korea’s narrow 2:1 loss against Brazil at the 2010 World Cup, Pyongyang allowed KCTV to air its team’s next match against Portugal live and in full for the first time ever.
But that match ended in a painful 7:0 defeat for the North Korean side.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]