South Korean footballers fume over anthem blunder

South Korean footballers were left dumbfounded at an international tournament in Indonesia when organisers played the North’s anthem instead.

Ahead of an AFC under-19 Championship qualifier against Jordan at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium on the outskirts of Jakarta, the South’s team lined up with their hands on their hearts.

But instead of Seoul’s hymn-like anthem “Aegukga”, North Korea’s national tune blared out, leaving them stony-faced and silent.

South Korean footballers weren’t happy after an anthem blunder at the AFC under-19 Championship qualifier. Pic: AFP

The South’s coaching staff told officials of the mistake, and while the correct song was then played, they protested after the game on Monday evening.

Seoul’s football authorities said Tuesday they will file a formal complaint with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

“This is the first time that the North Korean anthem was played instead of Aegukga at any official international match for any level of the national football team,” the Korea Football Association said in a statement.

The tournament’s local organising committee blamed the error on the audio operator in charge of playing the anthem.

“During the rehearsal, the South Korean anthem was played. But somehow the operator later picked the wrong song file,” Gatot Widagdo, media coordinator for the AFF U-19 Youth Championship, told AFP Tuesday.

“The operator has (since) been replaced and we have apologised to South Korea verbally and in writing.”

The North’s anthem was “stopped immediately”, the AFC said.

“An investigation into the mistake has been held,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

“The AFC apologises to the Korea Republic team and the Korea Football Association and the AFC will take the appropriate steps to ensure this error cannot be repeated.”