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N. Korean footballer Jong Tae-se to join S. Korean league: official
SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korean football player Jong Tae-se will join a first-division South Korean club next week, an official here said Thursday.

   Jong, 28, will leave 1. FC Koln in the second division German competition to play for Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the K-League, and will be introduced as the team's newest member next week, a Suwon official said.

   "We've finalized talks with Koln over the transfer fee for Jong Tae-se," the official said. "He will arrive in South Korea as early as next Monday for medical tests."

   Sources said Suwon agreed to pay Koln 300,000 euros (US$395,850) as a transfer fee, and Jong's salary is reportedly around 400 million won (US$376,000).

  
North Korean football striker Jong Tae-se. (Yonhap file photo)


Jong first expressed his interest in the K-League in November last year. Officials of Suwon and another K-League club, Ulsan Hyundai Tigers, said Jong's agent at the time contacted them with an eye on the 2013 season.

   Suwon was close to acquiring Jong last month at around 200,000 euros for the transfer fee, but then Daejeon Citizen, a third K-League team, stepped up and offered to pay more money to bring the North Korean star on board.

   Jong himself insisted he was only interested in playing for Suwon, a perennial contender and one of the most popular clubs in the K-League, and Suwon upped the transfer fee to 300,000 euros to finalize the move.

   Jong will become the fourth North Korean to play in the K-League. The last one was midfielder An Yong-hak, Jong's former teammate on the North Korean national squad, who played for two different clubs from 2006 to 2009.

   Jong, born in Japan to a South Korean father and a North Korean mother, attended pro-North Korean schools there and has said in interviews that he considers himself North Korean.

   The forward made his professional debut with Kawasaki Frontale in Japan's J-League in 2006. He represented North Korea at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the country's first appearance at the quadrennial event in 44 years. Later in 2010, Jong moved to VfL Bochum in Germany's second division.

   He joined Koln in January last year but went scoreless in five games as the club was relegated to the second division. In the current season, Jong did not score in five games while struggling to get playing time.

   He has been more prolific for North Korea in international play, having scored 15 goals in 28 games.

   jeeho@yna.co.kr
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