Son Heung-min relieved to be unhurt after Korean derby that was “like war”

Heung-min Son

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min says he was relieved to escape this week’s historic Korean derby without injury.

Son’s South Korea faced their northern neighbours for the first time in a competitive clash on Tuesday in North Korean capital Pyongyang.

The game ended 0-0 and was played in an empty stadium with no foreign media present and no live broadcasting.

Son returned to London yesterday and the Sun reports that he was happy to be back in one piece after a fiery encounter.  

“The match was very aggressive — it’s a huge achievement just to return safely without being injured,” he said.

The newspaper also reports that the South Korean FA’s vice-president Young-li Choi said the game “was like war”.

"They used everything from elbows to hands to knees to fend off our players. It was difficult,” he said.

The report adds that fans could only access online commentary limited to substitutions and bookings while the game on, although South Korean supporters have now been promised a DVD containing match footage.

South Korea’s players and staff had to travel to Pyongyang through China and were made to leave their phones in Beijing, with staff members only being allowed to report on the game via faxes sent to government offices in Seoul.

In North Korea, the state media have made no mention of the World Cup qualifying match.

The two teams were drawn together in Group H of the Asian qualifiers for Qatar 2022 and are currently level on seven points.

South Korea top the group on goal difference, while Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka make up the rest of the table.

Son, who has two goals and three assists in six Premier League appearances so far this season, will be back in action for struggling Spurs against Watford on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are in desperate need of a win against the rock-bottom Hornets after picking up just one victory in their last six games in all competitions.

Spurs are ninth in the league standings with 11 points from eight matches, 13 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

They have also got off to a bad start in cup competitions, getting eliminated from the Carabao Cup on penalties by League Two outfit Colchester United.

In the Champions League, Tottenham were thrashed 7-2 at home by Bayern Munich in the Champions League after throwing a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 away to Olimpiacos.

Now read...

FIXTURES Premier League Boxing Day and New Year's Day full fixture schedule released – and every game will be broadcast live

SPECIAL ONE Where now for Jose Mourinho? 9 possible destinations for his next job