Dream of united nation inspires Korea World Cup bid

ZURICH Wed Dec 1, 2010 9:56am EST

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Hosting the 2022 World Cup would provide the "gateway for a new era of a united Korea," South Korea's former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo told FIFA's executive committee in their final presentation on Wednesday.

Parading the bid under a message of peace and reunification, Lee said that ever since North and South Korea were divided in 1953, Koreans had dreamt of the day their country would be reunited and the power of football could help them do that.

In contrast to Australia's light-hearted submission featuring a cartoon kangaroo, the Korean bid opted for a sober presentation, with Lee not shying away from the North's recent shelling of a South Korean island.

"As you may have noticed on Tuesday of last week we had a clash in the west coast near the DMZ -- the line dividing North and South Korea which demonstrates why we need a special effort to bring peace to the Korea peninsula. "I believe we are witnessing the darkness before the dawn. The time is right to inaugurate hand in hand the era of peace and reconciliation in Asia and unite Korea in the heart of Asia."

The Koreans, up against Qatar, the United States, Japan and Australia in Thursday's vote, displayed a football, signed by players from North and South Korea, who played as a united team in the World youth cup in Portugal in 1991. Manchester United forward Park Ji-sung said the ball was an inspirational symbol.

"I'd like to start with a question, what is football to us, -- this ball is about life -- and just like all of you I can't imagine my life without football." Chung Mong-joon, a FIFA vice-president who showed an old family photo from the early 1950s with himself as a baby and who has a vote on Thursday, repeated the unification message and told FIFA: "President Blatter, honourable colleagues, let us walk together, let us make history together."

(Editing by Kevin Fylan)

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