And, apparently, they got off lightly:
England's failed footballers should count themselves lucky that their ignominious World Cup exit was met with little more than a public mauling by the media.
Their counterparts from North Korea, who lost all three of their group games, have been subjected to a six-hour excoriation for "betraying" the communist nation's ideological struggle, according to reports.
There are even fears for the safety of the team coach, Kim Jung-hun, who was accused of betraying the son and heir of the regime's "dear leader," Kim Jong-il.
Early this month the players were summoned to an auditorium at the working people's culture palace in Pyongyang, forced onstage and subjected to a six-hour barrage of criticism for their poor performances in South Africa, according to the US-based Radio Free Asia.
There are rumours that the coach might not be given such soft treatment.
A South Korean intelligence source told the Chosun Ilbo that in the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who let the nation down were sent to prison camps.
"Considering the high hopes North Koreans had for the World Cup, the regime could have done worse things to the team than just reprimand them for their ideological shortcomings," the source told the newspaper.
After wide public dressing-down of the team's 'faults' at the FIFA 2010 WC, sacking from the post and working unpaid as a construction worker, North Korean soccer coach may not be 'long for this world'. Kim Jong-hun, the disgraced coach, may not be 'long for this world', reports The Star. He fears he might soon be executed.
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