North Korea block Perugia's Han Kwang-song from giving TV interview, says club chief
The 19-year-old striker Han, who has scored five goals in his last six league appearances for the Serie B club on loan from Cagliari, was due to appear on RAI's La Domenica Sportiva programme at the weekend to discuss his string of impressive performances.
But just a few hours before he was set to drive up to Milan for his interview, he received a call from Pyongyang telling him not to go.
Han reportedly burst into tears after hearing the bad news – and the threats of repatriation if he disobeyed their orders.
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"A call from an unknown ministry figure arrived and it blocked everything," club president Massimiliano Santopadre told La Stampa earlier this week.
"Negotiating, like on the transfer market, was impossible because Pyongyang wanted to talk only and exclusively with Han.
"The situation with their government has become even more rigid [due to tense relations with the USA] and their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scared."
In the end, Santopadre appeared on RAI's show alone and made up an excuse for his young striker: "[He's] locked in his room, he's only 19 and didn't feel up to appearing [on TV]."