Odd though it may seem there are long and strong links between the North Korean capital Pyongyang and the northern English industrial city of Middlesborough
Going back to 1966 when the DPRK World Cup football team was billeted in Middlesborough and swiftly won the local hearts with their giant-killing and general demeanour in the tournament. Koryo Tours have facilitated a number of exchange projects between the cities but the biggest one remains the 2009 visit by the Middlesborough Ladies Football Club to Pyongyang to take on professional local opposition. Two matches were played in the April 25th Stadium, with around 7000 local fans there each time. DPRK’s women are among the very best in the world at football and both matches were won by the local sides, fairly comfortably, but the aim of the project was not just to see who was best but was to show football crossing borders and boundaries. And the Middlesborough ladies were fine ambassador for their sport and their city. Mixing with the local ladies at a post-match reception, attending the Pyongyang film Festival, and appearing on national TV (the only thing shown at that time, 100% viewing figures!), this was a major piece of engagement activity and we are proud to have arranged it.
The trip is very much about friendship and is evidence of football’s power to break down cultural barriers. It has all come about thanks to the wonderful support the people of Middlesbrough and Teesside as a whole gave the Koreans at the 1966 World Cup."