North female footballers to play here

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North female footballers to play here

The South Korean government approved the visit of North Korea’s national female football team to participate in the fifth 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup, a regional championship competition held in Seoul and Gyeonggi.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry announced its approval in a press release yesterday for the visit of a total of 36 North Korean football players and officials to the South, which was requested by the head of the Korea Football Association, the South Korean organization in charge of arranging the event this year.

The North Korean women’s team hasn’t played in the South since 2005.

The competition, which already completed the preliminary round in Hong Kong, will be held at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam-dong, Seoul Olympic Stadium, Jamsil and the Hwaseong Stadium in Gyeonggi, from July 20-28.

For the women’s matches, four teams are listed at the final tournament - South Korea, North Korea, China and Japan. North Korea’s male team lost in the preliminary round in Hong Kong.

According to the ministry, they will arrive at the Incheon International Airport via Beijing on July 18 and have three matches - one with South Korea on July 21, Japan on July 25 and China on July 27. They are scheduled to return to the country on July 28.

Along with the team, a total of 41 members of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, an association of North Koreans residing in Japan, will also visit the South to cheer their team.

The South’s Foreign Ministry is taking legal steps to approve their entrance, the ministry said, and their itinerary is not scheduled yet.

In an effort to improve the competence of players of East Asian countries, the EAFF Cup was launched in 2002. A total of 11 nations in the East Asian region attend the competition, which has been held irregularly. All of the costs for the flight tickets, accommodation and other fees during the competition are covered by the East Asian Football Federation.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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