By John Donegan
Sydney’s Korean community will unite as the national football teams from both North and South take part in the Asian Cup, which gets underway on Friday night.
Both North and South Korea qualified for the showpiece Asian football event, and Sydneysider Kuan Le has organised a supporters’ group that will barrack for both teams regardless of which side of the border they are from.
Mr Le, a South Korean who now lives in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, said he and his group would support both teams with equal enthusiasm.
“My family is from the south, but we as Koreans support any sports event from north or south,” he told 702 ABC Sydney.
Mr Le is ensuring plenty of support for the North Koreans and will take at least 20 family and friends to the game with him to emphasise that there will be no North-South divide at any of the matches.
North Korea’s first match will be on Saturday against Uzbekistan in Sydney, while the highly fancied South Korea will face Oman also in Sydney on Saturday.
North and South Korea to receive united support
“Korea will be united in the stands,” Mr Le said.
“The whole family, my daughter’s boyfriend and some Australian friends [are going to the game].”
Mr Le has printed an image of the Korean Peninsula on white T-shirts to ensure there is no mistake about who they support.
“Maybe this is the first step to unification,” Mr Le said.
“Like Paul Kelly says, ‘from little things, big things grow’.”
North Korea, ranked 12th in the 16-team competition, will need plenty of support in their match against the fourth-ranked Uzbekistan.
The team, at the time managed by Yun Jong-Su, qualified for the tournament after beating Turkmenistan in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup.
Jo Tong-sop has taken over management of the team and will look to European players Pak Kwang-ryong and Cha Jong-hyok to lead the young side.
Photo: Kuan Le with his multicultural mix of North Korean supporters (from left) Stefan Kinsky, Daniel Borsic, Sam Owusu-Ansah and Kay Le. (702 ABC Sydney: John Donegan)