According to Arad, the hatred dates back to the 1966 soccer world cup, which was held in England, where underdog North Korea had qualified.
The North Koreans had surprisingly advanced through to the quarter finals and appeared to be on their way to a major upset in their match against powerhouse Portugal. In the first half, the North Koreans jumped out to a shocking 3–0 lead over the Portuguese, historically one of the world’s best soccer countries.
Portuguese soccer star Eusébio then rose to the occasion by scoring four straight goals to take the lead, with José Augusto adding a fifth in the 78th minute to seal the 5–3 win.
“In North Korea, it turns out, the thinking was not that it was Eusébio who robbed them of the victory. The referee was the one North Koreans blamed for the loss. The one who held the whistle in that fateful game was the late Israeli football referee Menachem Ashkenazi,” Arad tweeted.
And those feelings have persisted until today, Arad continued.
“The incident in the national consciousness of the North Koreans is so deeply ingrained that when they want to curse a referee at football games in the local league…they simply shout at him that he is an ‘Israeli referee,’” Arad said
“In Korean it sounds like this: ‘Ai-su-ra-al-shim-pan-wen.’ If you are popping in to visit Pyongyang, do not talk to them about soccer!” Arad advises.