By Yoo Jee-ho and Oh Seok-min
INCHEON, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- Even the most imaginative of screenwriters would have been hard pressed to pen a better ending for South Korea's 1-0 victory over North Korea in the men's football gold medal match Thursday.
Defender Rim Chang-woo clinched South Korea's first Asiad men's football title in 28 years with a last-gasp goal as the clock ticked down in the second extra period. The goal came after a mad scramble deep inside the North Korean box, after a North Korean defender tried to keep a shot out of the net with his hand.
The scoring play set off such a wild celebration that even the television camera had difficulty identifying who'd actually scored the goal.
South Korean football players and coaches pose for photos after capturing the Asian Games gold medal on Oct. 2, 2014. (Yonhap)
Some 47,000 fans at Munhak Stadium, on the edge of their seats in anticipation of a penalty shootout, exploded in deafening cheers. South Korean players and coaches from the bench also came sprinting off their seats as the referees scrambled to keep them under control since there was still time on the clock.
The final few seconds seemed like a mere formality, as the crowds remained on their feet and the players went through the motions.
The whistle blew, and the real party began.
The South Korean players went wild on the field, running around and hugging everyone in sight wearing their red shirts and blue shorts. In stark contrast, the North Korean players went down to the ground and stayed there for a few moments, a picture of disconsolation for having lost on such an unlikely play, and of exhaustion for having played in extra periods for the second time in three days.
After the medals were presented and the national anthem was played, the gold medalists resumed their festivities. The players, in small groups, started running around the field with the national flag draped over their shoulders.
The players then gathered in a big group as they began circling the stadium, waving to fans delighted over the long-awaited football victory.
North Korean players leave Munhak Stadium after losing to South Korea 1-0 in the men's football gold medal match at the Asian Games on Oct. 2, 2014. (Yonhap)
While the celebration was going on, the North Koreans quietly filed out of the stadium, their exit hardly noticeable, with the victors having the stage to themselves.
Just a night earlier, the women's football players from the two Koreas celebrated their medals together on the same field. North Korea defeated Japan for the gold, while South Korea, having lost to North Korea in the semis, defeated Vietnam for the bronze.
Both Koreas were winners on the final day of the women's tournament. Yet on the men's side, one had to beat the other.
With an improbable goal near the end, the losers found it difficult to celebrate with their South Korean counterparts.