Manchester United are the most popular team on the planet. That’s a fact.
Whether you love them or hate them, millions and millions of people around the globe fly the flag for the Red Devils.
With such a wide and diverse audience, there are countless big names who openly admit their support for United. There are athletes (Usain Bolt), singers (Thom Yorke) Hollywood stars (Justin Timberlake) and a litany of other global names (and Eamonn Holmes) who are all ‘United til I die’.
However, one name often-cited on the long list of United fans is perhaps a little more surprising: North Korean despot Kim Jong-un…
Links between Kim and United first surfaced in August 2014, when The Mirror claimed that the North Korean leader was such a huge fan of both United and striker Wayne Rooney that he had ordered state TV to broadcast every United game on the same channel which also shows thrilling tutorials on how to ride a horse and how to play golf.
The Daily Mail backed up the claim, revealing that observers had confirmed the presence of the games, which are heavily edited to remove all crowds and adverts in an attempt to avoid giving a good impression of the western world. Louis van Gaal’s sub-par football was all the people of North Korea were given. Yikes.
What makes it all a bit awkward is that North Korea doesn’t actually have a broadcasting deal with the Premier League and therefore have to shown the games illegally – something league officials have previously blasted as copyright theft.
Imagine going through that much effort to see United win one FA Cup under LVG.
The reports always seemed a little bizarre, and it was hard to take them too seriously, but all that changed when a friend of Kim, Italian senator Andrea Razzi, sat down with The Sun to talk about Kim’s love of football.
Razzi, who previously told Radio Cusano Campus (via Football Italia) of his totally normal desire to take Juventus forward Paulo Dybala over to North Korea, admitted that the Dear Leader is mad for football, but actually spent most of his time talking about his love of Inter instead…
Kim was supposedly a regular visitor at San Siro during his teenage years when he was studying in Switzerland, so it seems as though Inter may be his first love ahead of United. How sad for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
However, Kim’s split loyalties haven’t stopped him from trying to help out United. In 2018, Corriere dello Sport claimed that he vetoed attempts from rivals Liverpool and Tottenham to sign the hottest prodigy in North Korean football, Han Kwang-song.
Teaming up with Razzi, Kim ensured Han – who became the first North Korean to score in Italy when he netted past Joe Hart of all people – sealed a switch to Juventus in 2019, when the young forward was widely seen as a genuine potential star of the future.
Kim didn’t want Liverpool or Spurs profiting off Han and instead listened to Razzi’s case for taking Han to Turin instead.
Han didn’t make an appearance during his time with Juventus, but he did give them a tidy profit when he was sold to Qatari side Al-Duhail in January 2020.