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Fans may be forced to follow Korean Derby by fax

Tuesday's 2022 World Cup qualifier between South Korea and North Korea is set to take place in Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Stadium.
Tuesday's 2022 World Cup qualifier between North Korea and South Korea is set to take place in Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Stadium.

South Korea may be one of the most technically advanced countries in the world, but football fans are facing the prospect of having to follow Tuesday's 2022 World Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang by fax.

Tensions between the two countries, which are technically still at war, remain high and while North Korea has agreed to host the game, negotiations to broadcast the action live in the south came to nothing.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, South Korea's three major terrestrial TV networks -- KBS, MBC and SBS -- said: "The live broadcast of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Stadium fell apart."

- World Cup 2022 qualifying: All you need to know

With no journalists or fans from South Korea allowed to cross the 38th parallel, the blackout has government and Korea Football Association (KFA) officials scrambling to find a method to keep media and supporters updated -- a tricky mission, given the almost total lack of communication between the two countries.

"We are still thinking of what would be the best way to deliver the news," an official from South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a media briefing in Seoul on Monday.

"We will review available means to deliver as much information as quickly as possible."

With doubts about the internet connection at the stadium added to the fact that North Korea does not allow access to much of the worldwide web -- including Kakao Talk, South Korea's most popular messaging service -- sending faxes from Pyongyang to government offices in Seoul has been identified as the likeliest option. These would then be distributed to the various media outlets.

Communication is not the only challenge awaiting South Korea. A request from the KFA for the 25-man squad to make the 121-mile (195-kilometre) journey between Seoul and Pyongyang by bus or direct flight was ignored by its North Korean counterpart. Players and officials have travelled via Beijing, where they have been told to leave their mobile phones.

The Taeguk Warriors will have just one training session on the artificial grass of the Kim Il Sung stadium on Monday evening and will return to Seoul on Wednesday.

The two teams have only met in North Korea once before, for a 1990 friendly, though the nations' women's teams played an Asian Cup qualifier in 2017. The 1990 friendly remains South Korea's only defeat in 17 previous meetings.

Pyongyang moved two home qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup to Shanghai.

Both teams have six points from the opening two games in Group H in the second round of qualification for the 2022 World Cup. Only the winners of the eight groups and the four best second-placed teams will progress to the next stage.

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