This was the Yangzee team pictured at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Seoul in 1967:
Back row (L~R): Heo Yoon-jung, Park Kwang-jo, Kang Su-kil, Kim Ki-bok, Lee Se-yeon, Bae Geum-su, Jung Byung-tak, Jo Jung-soo, Park Il-kap
Front row (L~R): Kim Jung-nam, Seo Yoon-chan, Kim Sam-rak, Hong Kyung-ku, Lee Hwi-taek, Lim Kuk-chan, Lee Young-keun, Jung Gang-ji
The members who attended the reunion event earlier this month in Seoul (a couple of others were out of the country, ex-Yangzee players Park I-cheon and Kim Jung-nam were busy with Incheon United and Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i respectively, and both Kang Su-kil and Hong Kyung-gu have passed away).
Back row (L~R): Oh In-bok, Choi Jae-mo, Kim Sam-rak, Kim Ho, Jo Jung-su, Jung Byung-tak, Heo Yoon-jung
Front row (L~R): Park Su-il, Lee Young-keun, Lee Hwi-taek, Lee Eui-jae (journalist), Seo Yoon-chan
Secret Soccer - The Story Of Yangzee FC
Generally considered the greatest upset in World Cup history, North Korea's 1-0 win over Italy in the 1966 tournament in England and their subsequent run to the quarter-finals gained international headlines for Asian football like no event had ever managed before. That the North Koreans were able to take part in the tournament at all was fortuitous, as a mass qualifying boycott by African, Oceania and Asian sides over the allocation of just one spot in the tournament for the three confederations combined left only North Korea and Australia vying for the single ticket. Despite pressure at government level from Australia and the United Kingdom, the North Koreans eventually won their way through to the World Cup and went on to create history.
By contrast South Korea could only watch on from home as the eyes of the world were on the North's footballers. Having made one previous appearance in the World Cup finals in 1954, where they lost 9-0 to Hungary and 7-0 to Turkey, South Korea missed out on qualification to the 1962 tournament after they were crushed 8-2 on aggregate in a playoff against Yugoslavia. Despite having been a strong force in Asian football during the early 1960s, and having won the first and second editions of the Asian Cup tournament in 1960 and 1964, they were upstaged by North Korea's feats in England in 1966 and, in the political climate of the time, the situation wasn't acceptable to the South Korean government.
In light of how the international media reported on North Korea's exploits, President Park Chung-hee demanded the South should be in a position to compete with North Korea in the international sporting arena. In February 1967 Kim Hyung-wook, then head of the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency, sanctioned the creation of a football club charged with aiding the South Korean government in taking on the North Korean "puppet regime", and recruited a number of prominent Korean football players for the club. Players such as Lee Se-yeon, Kim Ho, Kim Jung-nam, Jo Jung-su, Seo Yoon-chan, Heo Yoon-jung, Jung Byung-tak, Kim Sam-rak, Lee Hwi-taek and Lim Kuk-chan were amongst the names brought in to populate the squad.
Former Korean national team striker Choi Jung-min, who had represented South Korea in the 1954 World Cup finals, was recruited to coach the newly-founded team. The name "Yangzee", or "sunlit land", came from the Central Intelligence Agency's motto "We work in the dark to protect the sunlit land". Training conditions were harsh for the players, whose participation with the club took the place of regular military service duties and brought with it a monthly allowance of 25,000 won. Lavish bonuses were offered to the players by director Kim to motivate the players in training and on the pitch. The players lodged together in dormitories at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, and trained daily on immaculately tended grass pitches. Although they trained and lived under extremely strict conditions with numerous restrictions and continual surveillance on their free time, the players would eat the highest quality food daily as no expense was spared to get the players into optimum condition. Training typically began at 6am with one hour of running followed by a multitude of other exercises designed to strengthen the mental resolve of the players.
By mid-1967, Yangzee were the principal suppliers of players to the national team, with one July training squad of 23 players containing no fewer than eleven Yangzee squad members. Domestically the football scene at the time consisted of teams from the various military branches as well as university and works sides. In 1968 Yangzee demonstrated their dominance in Korea by claiming victory in the two major football competitions of the year, the Amateur Football Conference and the 16th edition of the President's Cup, the latter clinched with victory over a Jeil Fabric works side that had been a dominant force in both competitions during the mid-1960s.
In January 1969 the club represented Korea in the second edition of the Asian Champions' Cup tournament held in Bangkok. Initially grouped with Indian side Mysore State, Philippines club Manila Lions, and the South Vietnam Police and Bangkok Bank teams, Yangzee recorded four straight wins to top their group and advance to the semi-finals. Japanese works side Toyo Kogyo (now Sanfrecce Hiroshima) were dispatched 2-0 to set up a final appearance against Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. The final, on January 30th in Bangkok, saw Yangzee go down by a single goal to the Israelis.
Later that same year, after learning that North Korean players underwent extensive training camps in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency sent its squad on an overseas training program which saw the club spend 105 days in Europe touring East Germany, France, Switzerland and Greece. The fame of the North Korean World Cup side caught up with the Yangzee players on their travels though as they were frequently mistaken for the North Korean national team, a fact that motivated the players to demonstrate they had the ability to more than match those feats. The team returned from the trip with the creditable record of 18 wins, two draws and six defeats from the 26 matches played.
Despite the continued existence of the club with the stated aim of taking on and bettering the North Koreans, the political climate of the late 1960s moved towards a reconciliatory atmosphere between the two Koreas, and the focus of rivalry had shifted to Japan. In late 1969, by the time of a World Cup qualifier at Dongdaemun Stadium against the Japanese, Kim Hyung-wook attempted to re-focus the Yangzee players' energies on bettering their East Sea rivals. The day before the October 12th tie against Japan, Kim approached the Yangzee members of the South Korean squad with the offer of financial incentives to claim victory. The match finished 2-2, and the second match-up of the two countries in the qualification series on October 18th saw Kim enter the locker room at half-time to further encourage the squad members on their way to a 2-0 victory.
Whilst keeping up appearances to the contrary, Kim Hyung-wook's grip on power at the Central Intelligence Agency was waning and his departure from the position as director on October 20th saw support for and interest in the football club within the corridors of power greatly diminish. The team was officially dissolved on March 17th 1970 after just three years in existence, bringing to an end a curious chapter of a Cold War rivalry.
Results of matches are rather hard to come by, but these are their 1969 Asian Champions' Cup results from RSSSF.
Code: Select all
Group A ([i]in Bangkok, January 1969[/i])
15- 1 Bangkok Bank Tha Vietnam Police SVi 1-1
15- 1 Yangzee SKo Mysore State Ind 5-0
17- 1 Vietnam Police SVi Manila Lions Phi 7-0
19- 1 Mysore State Ind Bangkok Bank Tha 1-1
20- 1 Yangzee SKo Manila Lions Phi 7-0
21- 1 Mysore State Ind Vietnam Police SVi 2-1
22- 1 Yangzee SKo Bangkok Bank Tha 1-0
23- 1 Mysore State Ind Manila Lions Phi 2-1
24- 1 Yangzee SKo Vietnam Police SVi 4-1
26- 1 Bangkok Bank Tha Manila Lions Phi 4-0
1.Yangzee 4 4 0 0 17- 1 8
2.Mysore State 4 2 1 1 5- 8 5
3.Bangkok Bank 4 1 2 1 6- 3 4
4.Vietnam Police 4 1 1 2 10- 7 3
5.Manila Lions 4 0 0 4 1-20 0
Semifinals ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 28[/i])
Maccabi Tel Aviv Isr Mysore State Ind 6-1
Yangzee SKo Toyo Kogyo Jap 2-0
Third Place Match ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 30[/i])
Toyo Kogyo Jap Mysore State Ind 2-0
Final ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 30[/i])
Maccabi Tel Aviv Isr Yangzee SKo 1-0