‘It was like war’: South Korean star says North Korean players ‘very aggressive’ in historic clash

SEOUL: South Korea's Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min said the historic World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang was a "very aggressive" match that made him fear injuries, with North Korean players even swearing at him and his teammates.

The match in the North Korea capital ended 0-0 on Tuesday (Oct 15), in front of FIFA president Gianni Infantino but in an otherwise empty stadium and almost completely blocked off from the outside world.



READ: Football: Koreas in silent surreal stalemate as Australia plunder seven

The showdown between the two sides – whose countries are still technically at war – took place at Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Stadium with no live broadcast, no supporters and no foreign media in attendance.

"It's too bad that we didn't win, but the match was very aggressive to a degree that I think it's a huge achievement just to return safely without being injured," Son told reporters upon returning to Incheon airport on early Thursday morning.

"North Korean players were sensitive and aggressive … There was a lot of severe swearing (from them)."



Choi Young-il, the vice president of Korea Football Association, added: "It was like war. I've never seen such (aggression) in football until now."

About the empty stadium, however, Son, who captained South Korea, said he wasn't shocked.

"It rather made me think that (the North Koreans) thought us as a strong team."

South Korean players were not allowed to use their cell phones during their stay in Pyongyang, but the star player said he personally didn't mind.

"I liked it because I got to sleep a lot," he said.

READ: Football: South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

The match comes in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests that raised tensions in the region, and after the breakdown of talks with the United States over Pyongyang's weapons programmes.

Since the