FORMER JUVENTUS ace Han Kwang-Song once had the world at his feet as one of Italy’s most promising young forwards.
The 23-year-old, who is central to Kim Jong-un’s plan for North Korea to become a genuine force in world football, joined Qatari side Al-Duhail in 2020 after failing to make a single appearance in Turin.
Juve signed the player for around £4.25million in 2019 but he never played for the first-team, only appearing on the bench twice.
The majority of his time was spent in the Under-23s, where he failed to score in 17 appearances at the third-tier Serie C level.
A steep fall from grace for Han, who first arrived in Europe with Cagliari and went on to become the first-ever North Korean to play and score in Serie A.
Born in Pyongyang, the forward featured at a football academy in Barcelona before returning to his homeland to join FC Chobyong.
He then impressed at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup in Chile and Italian senator Antonio Razzi, close friends with Kim Jong-un, invited Han to join the ISM Academy in Italy.
Their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scared
Perugia president Massimiliano Santopadre
After breaking through at Cagliari, he soon began impressing on loan at Perugia, and his form saw him invited on to sports show La Domenica Sportiva.
The star was waiting in his hotel in Milan to be taken to the studio when the government of Pyongyang reportedly ordered a ban on the starlet making a public appearance over the phone, according to La Stampa.
Perugia president Massimiliano Santopadre said: “A call from a not very clear ministry figure arrived and it blocked everything.
“Negotiating was impossible because Pyongyang want to talk only and exclusively with Han.
“The situation with their government has become even more rigid and their footballers have been prohibited from appearing on TV, otherwise they would have repatriated him. Han is scared.”
Mundo Deportivo claimed that Kim Jong-un acts as a father figure to Han and has always wanted to control everything, including the youngster’s career.
The North Korean dictator was even said to have been an avid watcher of Serie A to keep up on his fellow countryman’s progress.
Expert in North Korean sport, Dr Udo Merkel, claimed this would have occurred because part of Han’s wages have to be sent home by law.
The move is not going to happen as long as the UN sanctions stay in place
Dr Udo Merkel on Han's failed Premier League move
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The Brighton University lecturer told the Daily Star: “Under current UN sanctions money sent to the North Korean government would be seriously considered support for the nuclear programme for the country.
“So I don’t think, under current the situation with several UN sanctions, and several UN resolutions banning the country from trading with any other countries to export, for example oil products and lots of other things to North Korea, that the move would be possible.
“The move is not going to happen as long as the UN sanctions stay in place.”
Asked if the British government would block the move, he said: “I think that is the most likely scenario.”