Japan plays away to North Korea in World Cup qualifying tomorrow, and despite the fact that the Koreans are already out of contention for Brazil 2014, the game is expected to be a highly strung affair. There’s a bit of a rivalry between the two nations. For the Japanese fans allowed to make the trip to Pyongyang, there’s just one rule: shut up.
Actually, that’s a lie. There are many rules for the 150 or so Japanese supporters heading into the land of the Supreme Leader. They are, per ABC News:
Fans are banned from bringing laptops, cell phones, and cameras with zoom lenses. No drums, vuvuzelas, or Japanese flags are allowed. Supporters can bring digital cameras, so long as the data cards are emptied prior to their entry into the Hermit Kingdom.
No flags, no drums, no vuvuzelas (this one is fine – good show North Korean football overlords); the Japanese fans were discouraged from going in the first place by the Japanese government, seeing as how the two countries have no diplomatic relations. And the fact that it’s North Korea.
And what does it cost for a Japanese fan to take the trip into the secretive land of personality cults and Juche? $3700, which includes a layover in Beijing (surprise: no direct flights to North Korea) and a sight-seeing tour of Pyongyang.
Japan is sending diplomats to ensure the safety of their fans. That pretty much sums up the situation, because while the Japanese supporters are allowed to make the trip unlike the Americans that surreptitiously made their way to Cuba a few years back, it takes some serious commitment to pay to visit one of the world’s shadiest nations.