Five years ago, during a Cagliari-Turin match, nineteen-year-old footballer Han Kwang-Song became the first North Korean to score a goal in Serie A history. He then scored others with Perugia in Serie B and In 2019, he was bought by Juventus, who sent him to play in their reserve team registered in Serie C. The presence of a North Korean professional in Italy has aroused great curiosity, given that the Asian country governed by a very rigid dictatorship has no type. relations with Western countries and generally prohibits the expatriation of its citizens.
Kwang-Song also seemed to be a rather promising footballer, as he often demonstrated while playing: only that over the past three years all trace of him had been lost, until he reappeared unexpectedly during two matches played in recent days by his national team.
Kwang-Song’s stay in Italy was authorized by the North Korean regime, just like that of other young footballers who arrived with him but whose traces have since been definitively lost. Like all other North Korean workers employed abroad, Kwang-Song would have been required to pay a large portion of his salary to the regime, which required its workers to do so in order to provide foreign currency and thus circumvent international sanctions. in order to support certain countries. of its economic activities, including the maintenance of its nuclear program.
However, in December 2019, new international sanctions were introduced by the United Nations precisely to prevent North Korea from obtaining foreign currency to finance its nuclear program, as well as to try to end the exploitation of thousands of North Korean workers sent to North Korea. abroad in humanitarian conditions defined by NGOs as close to slavery. The repatriation of North Korean workers was therefore imposed, and around this time Juventus sold Kwang-Song to a Qatari team, Al-Duhail, for around €7 million. In Qatar, he became by far the sportsman, but perhaps also the highest paid North Korean in the world, with a salary of 4.6 million euros spread over four years.
It is unclear whether the player continued to pay much of his salary to the North Korean regime in Qatar. The United Nations team working on the new sanctions said it had obtained a document Kwang-Song signed with a Qatari bank saying he would not transfer his earnings to North Korea. This document, however, was seen as an attempted diversion, particularly because Qatar was employing thousands of North Korean workers on construction sites for the FIFA World Cup at the time, as Russia had previously done. .
However, unable to work as a footballer abroad due to the new sanctions, Kwang-Song was last seen on a club team’s pitch on August 21, 2020 during a Qatar league match. Meanwhile, restrictions on international travel have also taken over due to the coronavirus pandemic and its traces have been lost. The latest news about him came from Qatar, which reported that in January 2021, Kwang-Song was transferred to Rome, to the North Korean embassy in Italy, where he reportedly stayed for months or even years. years, until last summer. .
Kwang-Song finally reappeared in public on November 17 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, among the starters of his national team engaged in a World Cup qualifying match against Syria, which was also the first official match played by the North Korea after four years of total isolation. . He played under number 10 and was replaced at half-time. Five days later, he reappeared in Myanmar, where he played for more than an hour and scored one of North Korea’s six goals.
On the apparent disappearance and subsequent public return of Kwang-Song la CNN wrote more than one article, including a long report published last July which said: “He boarded a Qatar Airways flight in Doha on January 26, 2021, when he was deported. However, without being able to return to North Korea, the flight took him back to Rome, as he confirmed to CNN a manager close to the file. “I know his management brought him back to Italy. I think he’s still there, but he can’t play football anymore,” his former coach in Qatar said. There CNN he contacted the Italian Foreign Ministry and FIFA but received no response.