Kim Chol-su can bend it like Beckham, but he has never heard of the English football star. Names like Roy Keane and Ronaldo are also new to the 27-year-old North Korean who can slice through a defence without breaking a sweat. But Kim got his first taste of international competition last week when the Beijing Celtic football team made history by becoming the first overseas amateur club to play in North Korea. Celtic's players, who are all based in China, are mostly Irish, with the rest coming from England, Belgium, Sweden, Canada and China itself. Two of the players are from Hong Kong. It was a small, but important step forward in North Korea's relations with the outside world at a time when tensions are rising in the region. 'Football is the platform but it's about so much more than that,' said Celtic player J.B. Terrins. 'This country has been so isolated for so long. A large element was just about showing these ordinary young guys that foreigners are not necessarily hostile; that we can easily get on well together.' The tour to Pyongyang was inspired by the award-winning film The Game of Their Lives, a documentary about the incredible performance of the North Korean team in the 1966 World Cup. They defeated Italy and reached the quarter finals of the tournament in one of the greatest shocks in football history. 'After we saw that film we were intrigued,' said Will Fingleton, one of the tour organisers. 'We could see how passionate they were about football and we really wanted to go to play them,' he said. Nick Bonner, an Englishman who produced the film and runs Koryo Tours, a travel company which specialises in trips to North Korea, said: 'It had never been done before. It was a batty but beautiful idea. We told the North Korean authorities it was about friendship and understanding.' Travel to North Korea is a sensitive issue at the best of times, and being ambassadors of sport and of China put additional pressure on Celtic team members to make sure the trip went well. After a few minutes into the game it became evident that Celtic's pre-match decision to take it easy on the North Korean side was misguided and by the time Kim and crew got into their stride the away team was a goal down. Chances were squandered at both ends but the home side was always looking the more comfortable. Ten minutes from the end, Kim waltzed through the penalty box and drove the ball into the roof of the net, giving his side an unassailable 2-0 lead. 'Oh, well thrown, lads,' came Mr Bonner's tongue in cheek response. Before kick-off the Koreans were standoffish and a touch sullen. Afterwards they had transformed into a happy bunch of grinning and hugging mates. Following a break for some local spicy fare and a beer, there was a seven-a-side tournament with Koreans and foreigners evenly mixed across the teams. The final went into extra time, then penalties, and then to sudden death penalties, with - true to form - a Korean slotting home the winner, to the delight of the local crowd. In the bar afterwards music became the parlance and Celtic player Enda Brogan let fly with Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World, as the non-English speaking Koreans smiled and stamped their feet. The tune was answered by Chae Song-ok, a 25-year-old waitress, who plucked on the guitar and sang hauntingly beautiful versions of Danny Boy and My Way in Korean. Simon Cockerell, from Koryo Tours, said the trip, which had been sponsored by courier DHL, was superb in that it allowed normal North Koreans to interact with foreigners for the first time. 'It was incredible. The football and music combination built an enormous bridge. The Koreans loved it and now want to make it an annual event, only bigger, with more players and spectators in a big stadium.' Back in Beijing, with its gridlocked traffic, flashing neon lights and swarms of people on noisy polluted streets, Terrins said he felt like he had landed in a different galaxy. 'You feel a bit shell-shocked, in some ways disturbed,' he said. 'And you think of those great people you met. We told them we'd never forget them. Hopefully they won't forget us.' Beijing Celtic are now planning their next trip: a match in Kabul, Afghanistan.