UM grad's dilemna: Play a soccer game in North Korea?

Submitted by superstringer on December 12th, 2017 at 4:58 PM

Soony Saad, former UM soccer player, has a dilemna.  He plays for Lebanon's national team.  They are going to play a game in North Korea -- a rare international game there. He wants to play for his national team, but, not in North Korea.  "What if I score a goal and they find out I'm an American?"…

A lot of his article is on Soony, in his post-UM days.

[Yes, a Bleacher Report article, but this isn't an opinion / hack job, it's an actual long article interviewing people, so like actual news.]



December 12th, 2017 at 8:57 PM ^

That is me and Rashan the Friday before last year's Penn State game.  That was my 40th birthday present and amazing to coincidentally run into the team as they were coming to a meeting at Schembechler Hall.

I am 6'2" and give you some perspective. Dude is BIG.


December 12th, 2017 at 5:18 PM ^

No way in hell.       Also slight thread jack because I did not want to add to some of the crap already on the board.  Is anyone else having trouble with Direct tv 4k box not working?   My non-4k boxes are working fine


December 12th, 2017 at 5:19 PM ^

maybe the team should stand with him and play a rare international game elsewhere. I would not take a chance of death or a life sentence because I looked at someone or something wrong.


December 12th, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

I was talking to a guy who'd visited North Korea (to say the dude was well-traveled would be to say that Rashan Gary has a fast reaction time)  NK was - to put it mildly - surreal.  Any tourist is accompanied by at least two government officials at all times, and if you want to visit such-and-such a place they'll always say "No" and then a few days later the 'no' becomes a 'yes' after the government clears you go do.  

The North Korean people he met were as nice as could be - there's no doubt it was 95% stage-managed but, in talking to the guy, you could really tell the people were grateful for any kind of contact with the outside world. One thing's for sure though - for all the many very real dangers associated with travelling there, there's a zero-point-zero risk of tourist scams or street crime there.


December 12th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

That's because people who would commit such crimes are executed or sent to gulags with all of their relatives. People who commit the crime of owning contraband literature (say, a Bible) can be and are regularly executed in public. Most of the peasantry isn't just controlled; it is kept far away from anywhere that foreigners are allowed to viist.



December 12th, 2017 at 7:33 PM ^

Oh I certainly don't doubt that one bit.

When I was vacationing in Vietnam (beautiful, beautiful country; 10/10 woudl recommend), our tour coordinator was from the south part of the country - he explained in no uncertain terms that the stuff he told us in the safety of the bus was not gonna be repeated outside otherwise he could expect - at the very least - a stern talking-to by the government and you can bet your bippy that Vietnam isn't even playing the same ballpark, league or sport as North Korea.


December 12th, 2017 at 5:41 PM ^

The opportunity to party with Dennis Rodman I suppose. Unfortunately Saad also risks death by giant cannon fire, huge mortar fire, tank treads, starving dogs, or the latest creative execution order dreamed up by the Nork leadership.

My former law partner visited NK but he holds a Swiss passport and was writing a pro-Nork spy novel at the time. He's had his permanent NK fix and experiences no desire to return.


December 12th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

It was great to spend 6 months in Korea 25 some years ago. I made it to the DMZ, and would love the opportunity to go to North Korea. Very sad situation. Hope this eventually comes to an end in a good way.


December 12th, 2017 at 6:37 PM ^

A lot of Americans have entered NK without an incident despite the horror stories we've heard. Actually not many people know, but until like 8 or 9 years ago, even South Koreans could go to a couple places in NK. Kaesong, former capital of an older dynasty, and a mountain called Kumgangsan. There was also a joint Korean industrial complex in Kaesong until a couple of years ago. Foreigners in Korea could join these trips too. I have a buddy who was in Korea at that time and he went.


December 12th, 2017 at 6:40 PM ^

It is legitimately a tough choice. But North Korea also tends to perform atrocities that it think it can get away with. Allowing anything injurious to an athlete engaged in competition would be a much larger international incident than the (sadly under-reported) atrocities commited against tourists. Not only would other nations get involved, but they would risk being expelled from international competition. That's a serious embarrassment and scandal. 

So Saad probably had little to worry about.