Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:03 UK

North Korea fans may miss out on watching World Cup

North Korean player Mun In Guk (flie image)
North Korea will play Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast in South Africa

People in North Korea are unlikely to be able to watch World Cup matches, after South Korea said talks on providing a free TV feed had stalled.

South Korean broadcaster SBS said "strained inter-Korean ties" meant the talks had not progressed as planned.

Seoul is still investigating a blast which sank a warship off its coast in March. Many South Koreans believe the North was to blame for the explosion.

North Korea has qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1966.

In the last World Cup in 2006, SBS provided free recorded coverage of matches in Germany to football fans in North Korea.

But in a statement, the broadcaster said the terms for coverage of the coming tournament in South Africa had not been agreed.

"We had planned to move forward with the talks in earnest in April and May, but they didn't progress amid strained inter-Korean ties," said SBS in a statement.


The two Koreas remain technically at war because no peace deal was signed after the 1950-53 Korean War.

The North Korean team just before their World Cup match against Italy at Middlesbrough, the UK, on 19 July 1966

The already tense relationship has worsened over the 26 March sinking of the Cheonan, with the loss of 46 lives, near the two countries' disputed maritime border.

Seoul has stopped short of accusing the North but has said it believes the vessel may have been struck by a torpedo.

"The most important factor to consider is public sentiment," an unnamed official at SBS told the AFP news agency.

"The sinking of the ship has worsened cross-border relations, which has halted talks on offering North Korea possible free World Cup broadcasts."

The South Korean government has not commented on the dispute, saying it would consider approving broadcasts to the North if SBS formally submitted a request to do so.

North Korea's team arrived in South Africa for the tournament last week. They will play Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast.

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