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The Japan-based Choson Sinbo newspaper -- considered a mouthpiece for the North Korean government -- reported earlier this week after South Korea's 2-0 win over Greece that citizens of the communist country "cheered the South Korean team with no exception."
Malaysia-based Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union came to an agreement with FIFA, the sport's world governing body, to beam the games into North Korea free of charge. It's up to the state network, however, to decide what to show.
"We want them to see what life is on the other side of the curtain," said John Barton, sports director of the broadcasting union.
Just over the border in South Korea, as many as 1 million "Red Devils" -- as the team's fans there are known -- have poured into the streets of Seoul for matches.
Such enormous rallies have been a tradition in South Korea ever since 2002, when its team surprisingly reached the semifinals.
Red, naturally, is the clothing color of choice. Women have fashioned the national flag into skimpy tube tops and miniskirts. Men are using it as a toga.
South Korea's Justice Ministry is turning a blind eye to a 9 p.m. curfew for the nation's 50,000 convicts on game nights.
Monks are holding World Cup parties in Buddhist temples, fans are taking in matches on a man-made floating island on Seoul's Han River, and even death itself is no deterrent to watching a match. Local media reported that mourners gathered at wakes in some Seoul hospitals could be seen in front of TV sets, cheering on South Korea.
Serbian economists estimate it loses up to $28 million for every World Cup match the national team plays due to absent workers. An employers' association is suggesting that companies reduce working hours to avoid other such walkouts.
Despite the widespread poverty and sour economy, Serbia's cafes are packed with people during the games, no matter who is playing.
There may be a silver lining in the dark cloud of lost productivity, however: Serbia lost its first game to Ghana, 1-0.
Some say a poor showing by the team could lower interest in the tournament and return employees to work, but 42-year-old lawyer Blagoje Ciric, sipping a beer on a hot Belgrade morning earlier this week, has his doubts. Especially since Serbia plays powerful Germany on Friday.
"I have little hope now that Serbia will beat anyone if it didn't beat Ghana," he said. "Still, I'll watch other games. Football is football!"
In Germany, known for its industriousness and strong work ethic, the great debate is whether employees will be allowed to watch while on the job.
Companies from Alliance to GRG Services GmbH say they will allow people to watch, and even project the game onto screens set up in conference rooms.
"Those who aren't interested in football are, of course, welcome to keep working," Stephan Schwarz, head of GRG Services, told the mass circulation daily Bild.
Even Berlin's prestigious JFK school is organizing places for students to watch on campus -- provided they get all their work done first.
Berliners who find themselves on the city's public transit system can follow the game because the capital's transportation authority BVG will be announce the goals in buses and subway trains and flash them on signs at bus stops and in stations.
Betty Koumba didn't have electricity in her home in Libreville, Gabon -- at least not until the World Cup.
Koumba was desperate to watch the games in her new house, which had yet to receive electricity nine months after she moved in. But the Gabonese civil servant finally secured a $3,000 bank loan two days before last week's opening ceremony to buy her hookup.
Getting power in this West African nation isn't as easy as simply calling up the electric company. The nearest power line was a mile (1.6 kilometers) away, and Koumba was told she would have to buy the cables to link into it herself.
Her brother pitched in with another $3,000, Neighborhood youths swarmed in to help connect the lines, slinging it across makeshift power poles made of scrap wood.
And just a few hours before the opening match Koumba's 20-inch TV -- formerly nothing more than a piece of living room furniture -- roared to life with the broadcast.
"We're celebrating two events: the World Cup and the arrival of electricity in our house," said her brother, Armand, who lives in the same powerless part of Gabon's capital.
Koumba's home has since become so packed that she had to move the TV onto her terrace outside to accommodate all the visitors.
Just one rule: They must bring their own chair, because Koumba doesn't have enough for all.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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