North Korea has asked its capitalist neighbour in the south for help broadcasting television coverage of the World Cup. South Korea's unification ministry, which is in charge of policy towards the North, would "positively" consider the request, a ministry official said by telephone.

South Korea previously helped the reclusive and impoverished communist state receive TV broadcasts of the 2004 Athens Olympics, the South's broadcasting commission said. The Korea Broadcasting Commission declined to comment on whether it had initiated discussions with world soccer body FIFA on extending the broadcast rights to include the North.

South Korea, which jointly hosted the 2002 finals with Japan, did not provide the North with rights for the games then, although the North's state-run television showed some highlights. South Korea has reached the finals this year, but its communist neighbour missed out on qualification after a campaign marred by crowd trouble during a home match against Iran. North Korea last qualified for the World Cup finals in 1966, when it caused an upset by beating Italy on the way to becoming the first Asian side to reach the quarter-finals.