The Game of Their Lives

This is the first film to have official access to ordinary North Korean citizens.

The Game of Their Lives is more than just a football film…

It is a tale of struggle and success and the beauty of sport crossing cultural barriers. It is the story of how an unfancied team from a Communist country arrives in England at the height of the Cold War and is not only adopted by the local townspeople of Middlesbrough but also ends up winning the hearts of the whole country.

The Game of Their Lives Documentary

“The police were there to make sure no-one came onto the pitch. This showed how much the English people loved us especially those from Middlesbrough. It still remains a riddle to me the people of Middlesbrough supported us all the way through. I still don’t know the reason why.”

The Game of Their Lives

A Touching Story...

The Times

A gem of a documentary...

The Sunday Times

An amazing film...

The Guardian

The greatest story never told

Ron Gluckman, Asian Wall Street Journal

Introduction

The Game of Their Lives is more than a football film. It is a tale of struggle and success, the beauty of sport crossing cultural barriers.

It is the story of how an unfancied team from a Communist country arrives in England at the height of the Cold War and is not only adopted by the local townspeople of Middlesbrough but also ends up winning the hearts of the whole country.

“Ayresome Park was in an uproar. And they won. Good heavens, they’ve won. North Korea have beaten Italy. What is going on here? They are delighted. This is fantastic. And North Korea will be in the quarter-finals. The crowd rising to them. And they are in tears. They are weeping tears of joy.”

(Frank Bough, BBC Announcer)

 

Synopsis

The North Korean team of 1966, thousand-to-one outsiders, performed miracles at the 8th World Cup in England.

On arrival in London, they were labelled the enigma, foreign in every aspect of their make-up. However, for a brief period, they would become the darlings of the nation. What’s more, their exploits the stuff of legend.

Yet once their adventure was over, the plane taking them home might as well have been flying them to the moon. Today, almost as little is known of the players and their country as was the case in 1966.

Having created the greatest shock in world cup history by sensationally knocking out one of the tournament favourites, Italy, North Korea became the first Asian team to make it to the quarter-finals. On their return to Genoa, the Italians, some of the finest and wealthiest footballers on the planet, were pelted with rotten tomatoes.

However, it couldn’t last for long…

The Koreans were 3-0 up in their quarter-final match against Portugal before the magical Eusebio intervened and won the game for the Portuguese 5-3.

For years, rumours have persisted particularly in South Korea that North Korea’s World Cup heroes had been sent to labour camps on their return from England and remain in dishonour. Until now, no one had been given permission to enter North Korea to interview the players about their experiences at the 8th World Cup.

“North Korea have taken the lead. Italy a goal down to North Korea Who ever would have believed it. They are absolutely overwhelmed. And who would be anywhere else tonight in this World Cup Competition but here at Ayresome Park. Extraordinary things afoot. And this stadium has never heard support like this for years and years”.

(Frank Bough, BBC Announcer)

 

About The Documentary

This is the first film to have official access to ordinary North Korean citizens. Indeed, in the film, the North Korean players speak openly about their memories of 1966. This, as well as the rebuilding of Korea after the devastating Korean War and their lives today in one of the least-known societies of the modern era.

This is the first time that a Western audience has seen ordinary North Koreans speak about themselves and their exploits.

The Game of Their Lives also shows never before seen archival footage, filmed by the North Koreans in England in 1966.

Technical Information:

Title:
THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES
2002

E Pictures presents
a VeryMuchSo production

in association with:
Passion Pictures and the BBC

Language:
English & Korean

Subtitles:
English & Korean

Running Time:
81 Min

Colour Mode:
Colour

Region Mode:
Multi-Region (DVD)

Director / Producer:
Daniel Gordon (BAFTA nominated)

Associate Producer:
Nicholas Bonner (Koryo Studio)

Editor:
Justine Wright

Executive Producer:
John Battsek

Cameras:
Nick Bennett & Daryl Kibblewhite

Sound:
James Baker

Production managers:
Alison Ollivent & Fiona O’Doherty

Production Coordinator:
Jessica Ludgrove

Made with the co-operation of the DPRK Korea Film Export
and Import Company and Korea International Travel Company

55th Anniversary
Limited Edition Photographs
Pak Sung Chol north korea in the world cup
Pak Do Ik

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