Still trying to figure out who you're supporting in the World Cup? How about North Korea? They might be playing as representatives of a starving hellhole ruled by a brutal, insane dictator. But their coach has an invisible telephone!
Obviously, you should be rooting for your homeland, assuming they're in the World Cup, due to... I don't know, you don't want to disappoint your dad, or something. But this can be kind of boring! And plus, don't you want to hedge your bets a little bit (I mean, especially if you're an American)? And don't choose whichever country you studied abroad in for a semester in college ("I just really felt like I had a connection to the people, you know?"), or the country your, like, great-grandfather is from. Choose the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, card-carrying member of the Axis of Evil! Here's why:
They're underdogs. North Korea is ranked 105th by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, making them a serious long shot. Even worse, they're in the so-called "group of death," along with strong teams from the Ivory Coast, Portugal, and the world number one, Brazil. Plus: That whole thing where they are the most-hated nation in the world.
They're actually not that bad. It won't be easy, but they have a chance to make it out of group play and into the playoff round. (They'll have to beat Portugal on Sunday.) But they've got a strong defense, and more than held their own against Brazil yesterday, despite being ranked, uh, 104 spots lower.
They're being coached by Kim Jong-il himself, via an invisible phone. North Korea's insane, hilarious-if-he-wasn't-actually-killing-off-his-own-people dictator/Great Leader Kim Jong-il, who, according to his own country's press reports, routinely hits holes-in-one when playing golf, is rumored to provide tactical advice regularly, possibly though a phone unable to be seen by the naked eye (according to ESPN, at least).
No one in North Korea can watch any of the games. North Korea sunk one of South Korea's ships the other month, so the South Korean broadcaster that was going to license its coverage to North Korea pulled out. The DPRK might be pirating the signals, but that would be to all six or so televisions in the country, so it wouldn't make much of a difference.
It will piss off Republicans. Okay, so this is not usually a good reason to do anything after the age of 19, but don't sports make you feel young again? Conservatives already hate soccer, because it was invented by Karl Marx, in Mexico, and the French are good at it, so just watching the World Cup is putting you on their bad side. Why not take it a step further and root for a bunch of commies?
The fans in South Africa are all Chinese actors. China, the last country on the planet that will even talk to North Korea, flew in a few hundred actors to pretend to be dedicated DPRK fans. How demoralizing would it be, to be playing in front of a politically-motivated sham audience, representing a populace that can neither watch you on TV nor see you in person? Really demoralizing. (Though not as demoralizing as starving to death, admittedly!)
They're named after a flying horse. The team is called "chollima," or "thousand-mile horse." "Socceroos" sounds even dumber than usual compared with a mythical winged beast.
Their presence could actually make a difference. The North Korean players are already learning about the joys of capitalism. On a trip to Europe this year, the team encountered pay toilets and told their Japan-born teammate, striker Jong Tae-se, "This is truly what capitalist society is like," which, well, fair enough. Okay, okay, one tournament may or may not change anything (and it'll change less just because most North Korean citizens aren't going to see any of it), but even the chance that it opens the DPRK up a little bit is worth a vuvuzela toot or two. This is multilateralism!
The team represents the people, not the government. Koreans around the world—even in South Korea—are rooting for the North Korean side, regardless of who's on the invisible phone. So why should it stop you?
They inspired this sign.
[Pics via Getty]