On August 14, Juche 102 (2013), a men’s football match was held at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in the capital city Pyongyang in the presence of the respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
That day a grey-haired man was sitting beside Kim Jong Un watching the football match on the rostrum.
He was Professor and Doctor Ri Tong Gyu who was engaged in researches at the Sports Science Institute of the Academy of Sports Science.
He, a football match commentator loved by people, was well-known throughout the country as much as the best footballer. But many people knew him by the voice, not by the face.
Here is Ri Chol Min, Deputy Director of the Sports Science Institute of the Academy of Sports Science under the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports.
“It was the birthday of Ri Tong Gyu when he had the honour of enjoying the football match with Marshal Kim Jong Un.
Marshal Kim Jong Un seated Ri Tong Gyu, who had made a contribution to the football development all his life, beside him, and all the spectators in the stadium, to say nothing of our researchers, were greatly moved.
He let all people know Ri Tong Gyu by the face, thus making his feats shine more brilliantly.”
Ri Tong Gyu worked in the field of sports science research from 1960.
In Juche 55 (1966), the football team of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was qualified for the World Cup Football Tournament for the first time in its history as the first country in Asia. At that time it defeated the Italian team, one of the strong football teams of the world, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Such a success was also associated with his unknown efforts.
With a desire to devote his life to the football development of the country and with the unflagging spirit and enthusiasm, Ri Tong Gyu wrote more than 10 books and over 100 essays including “Football Training Methodology” and “How to Dribble Football” and gave hundreds of lectures and short courses, making an active contribution to training promising reserve footballers.
As he was well versed in football, his football match commentary was really fascinating.
His commentary was backed by his wide and deep knowledge, profound common sense, simplicity and popularity to make all people including professionals and children understand easily and so all people recognized his ability.
He made a debut with the commentary of football matches of the World Cup in Juche 63 (1974). For nearly 40 years since then, he commented on over 60 football matches on an average and over 90 to the maximum in a year, thousands of national and international football matches in total.
That’s why the Korean people respected him, calling him “Football Doctor” and “Football Teacher”.
Once Kim Jong Un highly praised Ri Tong Gyu for his knowledge and talents, saying he is well versed in football. This time, he met Ri and gave him important instructions on the football development, encouraging him to work in good health.
People sent warm congratulations to the 77-year-old football doctor who devoted his all to the football development of the country, being rejoiced over his honour as their own.
Ri Tong Gyu is now buried at the Patriotic Martyrs Cemetery thanks to the care of Kim Jong Un.