The phone goes. It is the newsdesk. “We need you to go and find North Korean fans now,” comes the instruction. “There aren’t any,” I helpfully reply. “Don’t care. There must be at least one. Go and find him.”
Hmmm. I am in Soccer City, the North Koreans are at Ellis Park across the City. I have only a couple of hours to kick-off, no North Korean contact – but then, who has? – and no ideas, except for simply standing outside the ground and waiting for a North Korean to arrive. This is not time quibble because the message from the newsdesk is that this is a “must-have” story. Foreign correspondents in South Korea and Japan are filing dispatches and Jonathan Clayton, our correspondent in Johannesburg, has been stationed outside the team hotel. I have 800 words to write on the mysterious North Korean fans. Oh dear.
Times reporter Kevin Eason gives a great, first-hand account of tracking down stories – and North Korea fans – at the World Cup. It’s a story of shoe leather, pressure and a little bit of luck as a reward for doggedly chasing leads. Would be interesting to know if any World Cup reporters are using social media shoe leather too?