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Taming wayward brother

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By Choi Sung-jin

On Oct. 11, 1990, South and North Korea held their first friendly football match at Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang. After the game, players from both teams and 150,000 North Korean spectators sang the song "Our Wish Is Unification" together. The Korean Peninsula appeared to be one step closer to reunification at the time.

Things could hardly be more different on Oct. 15 this year. There were three "nos" at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in the North Korean capital, where the Koreas held their 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying match ― no spectators, no broadcasts and no scores. It was more like combat than a football match, a South Korean official recalled later. Son Heung-min, the South's captain, also said, "I think it fortunate that we could come back with few serious injuries."

That marked a stark contrast to the unity and fraternity demonstrated at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics just 20 months ago, let alone the first soccer match of 29 years ago.

What made North Korea ― or its leader Kim Jong-un ― do a political flip-flop in less than two years?

One can think of some reasons, from a strictly North Korean standpoint.

First, North Korea seems to believe its diplomatic debacle eight months ago in Hanoi, Vietnam, was due in large part to the South's failure as a mediator.

Encouraged by optimistic hints from the South, Kim Jong-un might have thought U.S. President Donald Trump would considerably lift America's economic sanctions if he refrains from conducting nuclear tests or launching........

© The Korea Times