First Women’s Football Team in Korea
Until the early 1980s it was inconceivable to the overwhelming majority of the people in the DPRK that women could play football.
Notwithstanding the conception, football coaches and eager girl aspirants to football turned out to implement the policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the government of the DPRK to develop women’s football. Thanks to their efforts, women’s football teams were formed in several sports teams in a short span of time followed by the organization of the first national women’s football team in November Juche 76 (1987).
Among the players who made their debut in the national team were Rim Sun Bong and Ri Hong Sil who had suitable constitutions for playing football, with sturdy physiques, keen anticipating ability in playing, and natural high speed, and Kim Kum Sil who left home to become a football player despite a strong opposition of her parents.
Though they followed different courses to the football pitch they were unanimous in their consciousness that they were the first women football players who would bring honor to the country. With this high sense of responsibility, they made patriotic and painstaking efforts to blaze a new trail for women’s football in the country and develop it to the world level.
The Korean women’s football team won the top place in the European football match held in the former Czechoslovakia in August Juche 78 (1989). It also beat the team of excellent players picked from the four participating teams, four-nil, surprising the spectators.
In Juche 79 (1990), only after three years of its organization, the Korean women’s football team achieved an amazing success of emerging as one of the three strong teams in Asia at the 11th Asian Games, and won the second place at the fifth international women’s football tournament held in Varna in Juche 81 (1992). Not resting on its laurels, the women’s football team made strenuous efforts, until it finished in second place at the ninth Asian women’s football championship in Juche 82 (1993) and entered the third women’s World Cup in Juche 88 (1999).
Women football players of the first national team thus achieved brilliant successes in over a decade after their debut, adding glory to the country.
During those days the team produced many star players. Kim Sun Hui played as a defender for the women’s team of world’s star players and was nominated as one of five star players in the world. Kim Kum Sil scored 92 goals in over 80 international matches and thus became popular as a “dark horse in Asia” and Ri Hong Sil, forward player, was known as a “dagger” for her spectacular attacking power.
In high appreciation of meritorious services of the women football players who devoted their precious girlhood to developing the country’s women’s football and brining honor to the country, the state awarded many of them with the title of Merited Athlete.
At present the women football players of the first national team are dedicating themselves to the development of the country’s sports, working as lecturers, coaches and officials in the sports sector to train future women football players. Ri Hong Sil acted as an international referee, and Kim Sun Hui worked as an international referee, a department member and a member of executive committee of the Asian Football Confederation.
Meritorious deeds of the first women football players are etched forever in the national football history along with the development of women’s football in the DPRK.