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Jan 8, 2013

Jong wants to be Korean 'ambassador'

North Korea striker Jong Tae-se has said he wants to be an ambassador between the two Koreas after finalising his move to South Korean club Suwon Samsung.

Jong, 28, was born in Japan but has a North Korean passport because his mother is North Korean.

He represented North Korea at the 2010 World Cup and has scored 15 international goals. His move to Suwon Samsung makes him the fourth, and so far the best-known, North Korean to play in the South.

Speaking after arriving in the South Korean capital, Seoul, to finalise his €300,000 move from Bundesliga club Cologne, he said he wanted to promote sporting relations between the North and the South, which technically remain at war.

A conflict between the two in the early 1950s was never resolved with a treaty, and recent tensions have been increased by a change of leadership in the Communist North, which has tested new rockets in the last few months.

Two years ago, the sinking of a South Korean navy ship was blamed by Seoul on the North - an allegation denied by the Pyongyang government.

Jong told reporters: "While I am playing here, I will be South Korean - but it doesn't really mean much because Korea is one anyway.

"Playing in South Korea means as much to me as representing North Korea internationally. While I am here, I'd be pleased to serve as an ambassador for [dialogue between] the South and the North."

He said he was looking forward to representing Suwon - "a big franchise with a large, enthusiastic fanbase" - and added: "My goal is to win the championship. I've never won a title as a player, and I would like win one with Suwon."

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