November 21st 2023.
Han Kwang-song has made an incredible comeback after three years of being out of the spotlight. The 25-year-old was once seen as one of North Korea's brightest prospects and had even been approached by Liverpool. It was with Italian side Cagliari that he made a name for himself, becoming the first North Korean to score in Europe's top five leagues.
After spending four months in Juventus' reserve team, Han was sold to Qatari side Al-Duhail for €7 million in 2020. His displays in Qatar were impressive, with five goals scored in 16 appearances. This helped Al-Duhail win the Qatar Stars League.
Unfortunately for Han, his career came to a halt due to United Nations Security Council sanctions. This prevented North Koreans from working overseas due to the concern that their salary was being used to support Kim Jong Un's nuclear and weapons programmes. As a result, his contract was terminated and he was deported from Qatar.
Han was unable to return to his homeland as North Korea had sealed its borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. He ended up living in a North Korean embassy in Italy, but was still unable to sign for another team due to UNSC sanctions.
The long wait is finally over as Han has returned to football. Last Thursday, he started in North Korea's 1-0 defeat to Syria, before scoring his first international goal in four years on Tuesday during North Korea's 6-1 win over Myanmar in their World Cup qualifier. His return to the football world has been an incredible journey and one that has certainly been worth the wait.
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