DATE March 5, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/Aâ¨ TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/Aâ¨ NETWORK NPRâ¨ PROGRAM Fresh Airâ¨â¨Interview: Barbara Ley Toffler, co-author of "Final Accounting,"â¨discusses the fall of Arthur Andersenâ¨BARBARA BOGAEV, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm Barbara Bogaev, in for Terry Gross.â¨â¨In 1995, Barbara Ley Toffler signed on with Arthur Andersen accounting as aâ¨partner in charge of their ethics consulting group. It was her job to adviseâ¨Andersen clients on responsible business practices. But soon after arrivingâ¨at the firm, Toffler, a former faculty member of the Harvard Business Schoolâ¨and the author of a book on business ethics, began to notice troublingâ¨ethnical behavior within the company itself. Her new book, "Final Accounting:â¨Ambition, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen," is her analysis of theâ¨flawed corporate culture, business strategies and fractured leadership thatâ¨led to Andersen's being implicated in the Enron scandal two years ago.â¨â¨Arthur Andersen was the auditing firm for Enron. It was found guilty ofâ¨obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to the Securities andâ¨Exchange Commission's inquiry into the corporation. In her book, Tofflerâ¨writes that Andersen's indoctrination of young employees created a culture ofâ¨conformity which was more extreme than in most accounting firms. Andersenâ¨sent new hires to a training facility in St. Charles, Illinois, which Tofflerâ¨likens to a boot camp.â¨â¨Ms. BARBARA LEY TOFFLER (Author, "Final Accounting"): Every young person whoâ¨was brought into the firm had an accounting degree and was recruited right outâ¨of their undergraduate education. They were 21, 22 years old, and they wereâ¨then brought in, sent to this St. Charles facility, and basically--Oh, whatâ¨shall we say?--transformed into what they called androids. The process byâ¨which they learned to do the kind of audits, to follow the kind of accountingâ¨procedures that a public accountant does was one that was carefully worked outâ¨so that each year of approximately seven or eight years they acquired newâ¨skills, they performed new activities and they learned to behave in a certainâ¨way. They learned to dress in a certain way. They learned to eat lunch in aâ¨certain way. They learned a variety of particular activities so that youâ¨recognized worldwide an Arthur Andersen person.â¨â¨BOGAEV: It sounds as if the young recruits, at least at Arthur Andersen, wereâ¨taught to follow the rules and also follow the leader, follow their leaders.â¨What were they taught about business ethics?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: I don't think that they were taught anything that reallyâ¨translated into what ethical behavior should mean. One of the things that, atâ¨least in the time--by the time I came there, I found the most unsettling wasâ¨that I had no sense that any young person was taught that the primaryâ¨stakeholder they served was the investing public. That was something that didâ¨not seem to be part of their ethical training. My experience led me toâ¨believe that the primary stakeholder they learned, the young people learned,â¨to attend to was, in fact, the partner who could control their future career.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now conformity works as long as the leadership is ethical and decentâ¨and has a certain amount of integrity. But you write that when the game andâ¨the leaders changed direction, the culture of conformity led to disaster. Youâ¨write about the practice of boosting revenues, which was a companywideâ¨practice of overcharging. In fact, it was referred to as `billing your brainsâ¨out.' So what were some of the techniques that Andersen used to inflateâ¨client fees?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Well, of course, our hourly rates were enormously high.â¨Partners were billed out at anywhere from maybe $350 an hour when they startedâ¨to about $500 an hour. And we found problems within the firm. I actuallyâ¨talk about something that was known as the planned fee adjustment, which wasâ¨sort of the hook to pull in clients, and this was a plan by which you wouldâ¨offer for a first job a substantial discount. We want your business, you're aâ¨good client. I think we referred to it as something similar to what used carâ¨salesmen do, and it was very, very similar. And then on that first job,â¨though you've already set such a high fee by exploding the number of hoursâ¨that you're going to be working, you then say, `But we're going to give youâ¨this wonderful discount.'â¨â¨Part of the practice, then, would be while delivering the service that you hadâ¨signed on to deliver was, indeed, to find a variety of other problems, andâ¨when those are presented as you're walking out the door and the client says,â¨`Oh, but we need you,' you say, `Well, yes, of course, but our regular feesâ¨are such and such.' And that, of course, then allowed you to come--well,â¨perhaps stay in--rather than even come back in with these higher fees andâ¨hopefully, carte blanche, to be able to expand the services and deliver themâ¨as richly as you could.â¨â¨There was the other side of the problem, of course, which is that the clientâ¨said, `Look, this is the amount of money we're spending, and that's it. We'reâ¨capping it at this.' Then, of course, there was the question as to whether orâ¨not you really got very good service.â¨â¨BOGAEV: On the surface of it, again, none of this is overtly illegal,â¨certainly, or even unethical. I mean, someone might say, `Well, why'd theâ¨marketplace put up with it? A client can always go elsewhere.' Is that howâ¨people within Andersen, I guess, rationalized this kind ofâ¨billing-your-brains-out behavior to themselves?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Well, I think there was certainly the belief that kind of we'reâ¨worth it, we're Arthur Andersen, we're the best. Certainly some of theseâ¨things were practices across professional service firms, other accountingâ¨firms, and I daresay some law firms, as well. So what we are talking aboutâ¨is not necessarily something that is illegal. That is what is so insidiousâ¨about this. You know, if they had been doing things that were illegal, thatâ¨were egregiously unethical that you, I, and everyone else could say, `That'sâ¨outright unethical,' they wouldn't have gotten away with it.â¨â¨The fact was that this all came within the way we do business. This becameâ¨certainly in the last years of the firm with the new economy and the dot-coms,â¨this became the way we do business around here, long forgotten the way theyâ¨used to do business. But that's what's so important about this story is theâ¨fact that these were standard activities that just kept moving further andâ¨further, whether you call it down the slippery slope or outside the acceptableâ¨way of doing business. But they were not egregiously unethical, not illegal,â¨and that's why it took so long and I guess became so very, very dysfunctionalâ¨before it destroyed the firm.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now one of the key charges in the Enron fiasco is that Andersen had aâ¨conflict of interest in that they were both an auditing firm for Enron andâ¨they were also hired on as financial consultants so they had a vestedâ¨interested in maintaining this illusion that Enron was in good financialâ¨order. How common is this among accounting firms, to serve both as financialâ¨consultants and as auditors?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: In the last 10, 12, 15 years, it has become more and moreâ¨common. In fact, I believe all of what were Big Six at the time, developedâ¨consulting services, among them the outsourcing of internal audit which, forâ¨many people, and I would include myself in this, became the ultimate ofâ¨conflict of interest. In this case, you have one firm, Arthur Andersen, doingâ¨both the internal auditing for a firm, and the external auditing. It's aâ¨conflict. That's all there is. One side is doing the work and the other sideâ¨is essentially assessing whether or not the work is done properly and they'reâ¨all the same group.â¨â¨BOGAEV: So you would think that the checks and balances you would need inâ¨order to avoid that conflict of interest, it sounds as if they simply weren'tâ¨there, weren't even thought of, there wasn't even a nod to it.â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: That's exactly right, and it was a blindness, I think, andâ¨again, a blindness driven by the desire for revenues. That became the drivingâ¨force, and the mantra in the firm became `Keep the clients happy,' because byâ¨keeping the client happy is how, in fact, you bring in more revenues. Keepingâ¨the client happy, of course, had disastrous outcomes because it meant youâ¨don't want to tell a client anything that may upset them.â¨â¨Just to go back briefly to the original Arthur Andersen, early on in hisâ¨career, he stood up to a very major client, basically said, `I am not going toâ¨change these numbers to make you happy. If you want to take your business andâ¨walk, you can take your business and walk,' which the client did, but itâ¨established who that firm, Arthur Andersen, was going to be. By the time Iâ¨came in, there was not this sense of if the client doesn't adhere to the wayâ¨we want to do it, then we'll have to lose the client. The point was `What'sâ¨the client want? Let's give it to them.'â¨â¨BOGAEV: I'm talking with Barbara Ley Toffler. She was a partner in charge ofâ¨Ethics and Responsible Business Practices consulting services for Arthurâ¨Andersen accounting firm from 1995 to 1999. She's co-written a book about herâ¨experience at Andersen. It's called "Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed, andâ¨the Fall of Arthur Andersen." Barbara Ley Toffler now teaches at Columbiaâ¨University Business School.â¨â¨We'll talk more after the break.â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BOGAEV: If you're just joining us, our guest is Barbara Ley Toffler. She wasâ¨the partner in charge of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen's ethicsâ¨consulting group in the late '90s. She left before Andersen was implicated inâ¨the Enron debacle.â¨â¨She has a new book about her understanding of the business practices that ledâ¨to Andersen's demise. It's called "Final Accounting."â¨â¨What did these problematic business practices and corporate clashes amount toâ¨in the late '90s for Arthur Andersen?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: In the late '90s, we began to see the first of a series ofâ¨client disasters. Probably the first most prominent one was Waste Management,â¨which was followed then by Sunbeam and the Arizona Baptist Foundation, andâ¨then subsequently, of course, Enron, WorldCom, several others. But what wasâ¨coming out--and it wasn't just Arthur Andersen, remember, there were a numberâ¨of these, none quite as dramatic, I think, as Waste Management and Sunbeam,â¨that led to a couple of things. One, in 1998, BusinessWeek had an articleâ¨that was headlined Where Were The Accountants? which enumerated the manyâ¨accounting failures that were starting to emerge and then in September ofâ¨1998, Arthur Levitt, then head of the SEC, of course, raised then the bigâ¨concern about managing earnings and basically put the accounting firms onâ¨notice that something was awry and he and his team were going to do everythingâ¨they could to look into it and correct whatever was going on.â¨â¨So that is what started to happen in the late '90s. Now something else wasâ¨happening at Arthur Andersen, too, at the time, was that it was becoming veryâ¨intrigued by the new economy. As we say, we believe Arthur Andersen hadâ¨jumped into the arms of the new economy like a teen-ager with raging hormones.â¨I'm not sure we say it just like that, but basically that was the case, soâ¨that while there were concerns on the part of the oversight committees, thereâ¨was also this wild abandon on the part of Arthur Andersen and several of theâ¨other firms as well.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now at this point, and this is around 1998, or so, late '90s...â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Right.â¨â¨BOGAEV: ...before Enron. At this point did Andersen take any action to cleanâ¨up its accounting?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: 1998 should have provided Arthur Andersen the opportunity toâ¨both clean up its business and to be a leader in reshaping the accounting firmâ¨and I fault them perhaps most of all for not taking advantage of theâ¨extraordinary capability that they had at that point to have made a phenomenalâ¨difference. In 1998, I was invited to attend two meetings of an existingâ¨committee called the risk management executive committee. This committee wasâ¨made up of top partners in the firm. It was made up of people from theâ¨Professional Standards Group, it was made up of attorneys, and leadingâ¨partners nationally. At these two committee meetings, discussion took placeâ¨at which it was clear that the Arthur Andersen leadership was absolutely awareâ¨of the many kinds of problems, both internally and externally, that the firmâ¨and the profession were facing. In point of fact, they laid out a document,â¨which we were all asked to comment on, that enumerated the internal risks, theâ¨external risks, and even went so far as to stating in one place that thereâ¨should be real concern of the impact of aggressive accounting when the economyâ¨tanks. Now if you know this in 1998, and disasters that occurred in 2000 wereâ¨still allowed to occur, I feel that that was the greatest tragedy that we sawâ¨at Arthur Andersen.â¨â¨BOGAEV: They had this risk management committee and this kind of landmarkâ¨meeting. What came of it?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: As far as I know, almost nothing. There was a single documentâ¨that in point of fact my group was asked to design to make it one of theâ¨pieces of material going out that would grab everyone's attention that came toâ¨be known as the `cooking the books' memo. This went out in, I believe,â¨October of 1998. That basically said our clients are at risk; we are at risk;â¨there's cooking the books going on; we've got to pay attention; we can allâ¨suffer great harm. And it went out. What happened? I don't know. I don'tâ¨think there was any major effort that was taken. I never heard anyone standâ¨up and say, `We have just gone through Waste Management. We have just goneâ¨through Sunbeam. This is a sin, a shame, that a firm like Arthur Andersenâ¨should be engaged in this. It's horrifying. We are going to change andâ¨we're going to lead the way to change others.' That's what should have beenâ¨done, and it was never done. The words that I heard about Waste Management isâ¨`We didn't do anything wrong. We've paid and we've put that all behind us andâ¨we're going forward.'â¨â¨BOGAEV: They paid settlement fees.â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Yes, they paid settlement fees, no indication, as they wouldâ¨say, that they had done anything wrong.â¨â¨BOGAEV: You resigned in 1999.â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Right.â¨â¨BOGAEV: What was the final straw for you that prompted your leaving theâ¨company?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: There were several, certainly, final straws. I went through aâ¨series of events and certainly at the time of the global risk managementâ¨committee presentation I had high hopes that maybe we--this was really goingâ¨to finally turn around and the firm was going to start to pay some attentionâ¨to its own concerns, and to--we hoped--the ethics group as well. But I thinkâ¨for me the fact that there was no follow-up to that and that ultimately Iâ¨signed onto a project in which I egregiously inflated my proposal--this was aâ¨large project for a international bank that was merging--that I inflated myâ¨proposal was part of an uncomfortable presentation to a client who should haveâ¨been a wonderful client and I suddenly became so terribly embarrassed aboutâ¨what I had done and about the proposal that we were presenting that I actuallyâ¨called up the client. No one will know until they read the book. I don'tâ¨think anyone knew at the time. Said, `We're ripping you off.' Hung up theâ¨phone. And said, `That's it. I really cannot stay in this firm any longer.'â¨â¨BOGAEV: What do you see as the moral of this Enron-Arthur Andersen story?â¨What lessons does it teach about reforms that are needed in the accountingâ¨industry?â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Probably the most important lesson is that there must be aâ¨greater awareness of conflicts of interest, of the broad range of conflicts ofâ¨interest. There must be greater recognition that accounting firms are thereâ¨to serve the public, that they are there to clarify and assure the numbers areâ¨accurate and that we at least for the near future need some very strenuousâ¨regulation and oversight. There are some perhaps lesser issues. Our publicâ¨accounting firms are partnerships. I think that structure probably has to beâ¨looked into because it is a structure that allows the diffusion ofâ¨responsibility, and it does not allow independence in the leadership who areâ¨completely subject to the whim and will of the partners.â¨â¨But that is probably secondary right now to the kind of very strong oversightâ¨that is going to be essential. And the firms asked for it, unfortunately,â¨and I think, or hope, that they're going to get it.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Barbara Ley Toffler, I want to thank you so much for talking with meâ¨today on FRESH AIR.â¨â¨Ms. TOFFLER: Barbara, thank you for having me. I was delighted to be here.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Barbara Ley Toffler's new book is book, "Final Accounting: Ambition,â¨Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen."â¨â¨I'm Barbara Bogaev and this is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨(Credits)â¨â¨BOGAEV: This is NPR, National Public Radio.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BOGAEV: At the 1966 World Cup, the scrappy North Korean soccer team beat theâ¨favorite and more brawny Italians to become the first Asian team to make it toâ¨the quarter-finals. It was considered the most shocking upset in World Cupâ¨history. That game is the subject of a new documentary, "The Game of Theirâ¨Lives." Coming up, we meet filmmakers Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner, and Maureenâ¨Corrigan reviews Scott Spencer's new novel, "A Ship Made of Paper."â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner discuss their documentaryâ¨about the events at the 1966 World Cupâ¨BARBARA BOGAEV, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm Barbara Bogaev.â¨â¨Every sport has its legends, the stories of victories or upsets that fans comeâ¨back to again and again over beers at the corner pub. For soccer fans, one ofâ¨those legendary events was the 1966 World Cup when an underdog team from Northâ¨Korea defeated Italy. The North Koreans became the stars of the Cup evenâ¨after losing to Portugal in the quarterfinals. They then returned to Northâ¨Korea and were never heard from again. Now filmmakers Dan Gordon and Nickâ¨Bonner tell their story in the new documentary "The Game of Their Lives."â¨Gordon and Bonner spent five years tracking down the players and working toâ¨get permission from the North Korean government to film in private homes,â¨which the Western press rarely has access to.â¨â¨They found that the story of this long-ago soccer match has politicalâ¨dimensions that resonate today in this period of rising tensions between theâ¨US and North Korea. Just to get a sense of how exciting this match was, let'sâ¨listen to the end of the 1966 World Cup game, North Korea vs. Italy.â¨â¨(Soundbite of World Cup game)â¨â¨Unidentified Man: ...(Unintelligible) an uproar. And they've won! Goodâ¨heavens, they won! North Korea have beaten Italy. What is going on here?â¨They are delighted. This is fantastic. And North Korea will be in theâ¨quarterfinals. And the crowd rising to them, and they're in tears. They areâ¨weeping tears of joy.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Dan, can you give us an idea just how legendary this 1966 upset was?â¨Is this a story that you hear soccer fans tell all the time?â¨â¨Mr. DAN GORDON (Filmmaker): Yeah. This is quite well-known as the greatestâ¨shock in World Cup history. It's really a story that I knew a lot about justâ¨in the bare facts of the Koreans beat Italy 1-nil, legendary game in 1966 inâ¨Middlesbrough, which is in the northeast of England. That story's quiteâ¨legendary, and also what's legendary is the Italians were so shamed on theirâ¨return, that they returned to a hail of rotten tomatoes from their fans.â¨â¨BOGAEV: How did this North Korean soccer team come to qualify for the Worldâ¨Cup in 1966 in the first place? I mean, this is only--What?--13 years afterâ¨the Korean War and they didn't have diplomatic relations with the sponsoringâ¨countries, did they?â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Yeah. I mean, the more we researched the story, the more weâ¨realized it was far more than just, you know, one match in Middlesbrough. Andâ¨they qualified by playing Australia in a playoff game, the qualification atâ¨that time. There was only one place open to Africa, Asia and Oceania. It wasâ¨very, very dominated by South America and Europe, the World Cup at that time.â¨And all the African nations withdrew as a boycott, which then led to themâ¨getting a place at the 1970 World Cup. So it left South Korea and North Koreaâ¨and Australia, and because North and South didn't want to play each other, theâ¨South actually withdrew, so it left two teams to qualify for one place.â¨â¨And in football parlance, they murdered them. They won 9-2 in aggregate, 6-1â¨and 3-1, and that was a huge shock because the Australians were made up ofâ¨mainly British players, who had been lower league players but stillâ¨professional.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now I think you say the average height of the North Korean playersâ¨was--What?--about 5"5'.â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Five-foot-five, yeah.â¨â¨BOGAEV: And the first game they had to play before they played Chile and theâ¨Italians were USSR, the Russians.â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Yeah.â¨â¨BOGAEV: They must have towered over them, the Russians.â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Yeah, they did. And again, we didn't know this until we lookedâ¨more into the, you know, research side of things, but they had actually goneâ¨on a tour of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the August before the Worldâ¨Cup, and they'd played, you know, some of the best teams in Russia and beatenâ¨them. And the way they'd beaten them was with their speed and, you know,â¨their nimbleness and, you know, their skill. And the Russians, you know,â¨certainly weren't stupid, and they learned from that and they realized thatâ¨they've got this enormous physical presence, and whilst the North Koreansâ¨weren't scared, they were certainly well and truly beaten around. I thinkâ¨there was a foul every three minutes, which, you know, for that time--well,â¨even for now--is quite an exceptional foul rate. And they weren't just nigglyâ¨fouls. They were smashed around the pitch. But the amazing thing is, I mean,â¨they were well-built, the Koreans, just on a slightly smaller scale than theâ¨Russians.â¨â¨So they certainly didn't--I think that the amazing thing is in England, peopleâ¨thought, `Well, you know, we've wondered what these Koreans are like, and nowâ¨we've seen they're not really up to much.' But the Koreans themselves saidâ¨they went back to the dressing room or locker room, as in America, and, youâ¨know, they said, `Right. Well, you know, we've been defeated, but, you know,â¨we've still got two more games to play, and we'll show people.'â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now this Russian game was played in Middlesbrough, and apparently theâ¨townspeople of this northeast town in England just went crazy over the Northâ¨Koreans. How fanatical did they get?â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Initially, they were disappointed that it was going to be theâ¨North Koreans based in Middlesbrough rather than, you know, a more glamorousâ¨side like Italy. But then there was this huge curiosity about these littleâ¨men. And, you know, again, some of the media had sort of said, you know,â¨they'd be little evil Communists and, you know, really hard. And when theyâ¨met them, the townspeople went to see them train, they realized immediatelyâ¨that, you know, these were really, really nice people and, you know, we'll getâ¨behind them. And then they got the sympathy vote after the Russia game. Andâ¨then suddenly, it just seemed to turn in the Chile game. The crowd wasâ¨screaming and chanting and, you know, screaming for Korea. And at that time,â¨that didn't really happen in the English leagues. And as, you know, the BBCâ¨commentator says, you know, they've never cheered Middlesbrough like this forâ¨years here. And it was incredible. The people just seemed to be carriedâ¨along with this fervor that was developing, and they did completely identifyâ¨with these North Koreans as their team.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Let's talk about the famed game against Italy. How'd the game shapeâ¨up and how good was the Italian team in 1966?â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Well, the Italian team was one of the favorites for theâ¨tournament. They were a young team and they would win the Europeanâ¨championships two years later, and they would be the runners-up at the Worldâ¨Cup in 1970, and Facchetti was an incredible player, Mazzola was a realâ¨leader, and Rivera, you know, was the Golden Ball winner, which is like theâ¨most valuable player in Europe. So they should have been on a real high. Butâ¨I think they approached the World Cup quite nonchalantly. They assumed thatâ¨they would easily get through this group and they'd probably, you know, winâ¨all three games.â¨â¨And the easiest thing was that, you know, they beat Chile in that first game,â¨and they thought they would then beat Russia and stroll--you know, play aâ¨reserve side against North Korea and still stroll through. They actually lostâ¨to Russia in their second game, so there was a number of things that wereâ¨going wrong within the camp. There was a lot of disquiet and the manager,â¨Fabri, you know, he recognized--in the local papers, he said, `You know, myâ¨players have lost faith in themselves.' And so you've got this real, youâ¨know, Italian crisis within themselves and a fading of confidence.â¨â¨And in the meantime, the Koreans were getting better and better. They'd lostâ¨their first game. They drew the second with this amazing last-minuteâ¨equalizer, and they approached the game thinking, `Yes, we're going to win.'â¨But again, I think the Italians did approach the game thinking, `Well, we onlyâ¨need to draw. You know, if we tie the game, then that's good enough.' Andâ¨there's a big--you know, no one ever learns from history, but so many teamsâ¨have approached a game thinking, `We only need to tie this game, and we'll beâ¨fine,' and they end up losing and going home.â¨â¨And that's what happened. The Italians started amazingly well. Rechumâ¨Yung(ph), the goalkeeper, was, you know, in really, really fine form and savedâ¨lots of shots, and the Italians missed. Then their captain was injured andâ¨taken off and there were no replacement players at that time. And slowly, youâ¨could see the Italian players lose heart and the Koreans gaining confidence.â¨And then, you know, Park Doo-ik scored this legendary goal four minutes beforeâ¨halftime, and then they held on in the second half.â¨â¨And it's amazing. You can see--you know, the BBC commentator says, you know,â¨`They've won. Good heavens, they've won.' And, you know, it was the greatestâ¨shock in World Cup history. Now the Koreans say they weren't shocked by it.â¨They believed that they would win. But in Italy, it still remains a nationalâ¨disgrace. And, in fact, you know, it's still known, if anything goes wrong inâ¨Italy, they call it another Korea, and that's the extent to which the Italiansâ¨sort of--you know, they still suffer from that fateful day, July the 19th,â¨'66.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now a big part of the story and part of the mystery and the mystiqueâ¨of it is due to the fact that these extraordinary players went back to Koreaâ¨and virtually disappeared to the West and to the world of sports. And youâ¨point out in the film that there were rumors about what happened to them whenâ¨they returned. After they beat Italy, they lost in the quarterfinals toâ¨Portugal. And what were the rumors?â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Yeah. The r...â¨â¨BOGAEV: That they were censured or punished in some way for their loss?â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Yeah. I mean, the rumors had spread that they'd been imprisoned.â¨But the stories were so conflicting that we weren't really sure, you know, ofâ¨their authenticity, anyway. The big thing was no one had ever asked theâ¨players what had happened and, you know, to a man, they all said, `Well, youâ¨know, we came home as heroes. You know, look at the footage. You'll see.'â¨And they are still regarded as heroes.â¨â¨Mr. NICK BONNER (Filmmaker): Some of the allegations were thatâ¨they'd--particularly the ones that came out from England, but that they threwâ¨the Portuguese match by womanizing and drinking beforehand. And we went toâ¨sort of try and find out about this theory, and we went up to Middlesbrough toâ¨see if they'd been womanizing. And they're very good-looking lads. I mean,â¨even now, you've got girls going, `Whoo-hoo, what a team.' And there was noâ¨incidents. This is a very small town, Middlesbrough, and you'd soon know ifâ¨anything had been going on there. And at that time--we looked in theâ¨records--there were no sort of pregnancies going on with Korean kids goingâ¨around.â¨â¨We then went up to Liverpool to check about the drinking allegations, and muchâ¨to sort of Dan and my shock, you know, the man we interviewed who was theâ¨original chap around the bar, said, `Yes, you know, they did. They drunk theâ¨bar dry.' And Dan and I went, `Oh, no. This is awful.' But, `Oh, no, sodaâ¨water.' And that sort of gives you an idea. I mean, they were there to playâ¨football.â¨â¨BOGAEV: My guests are Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner. Dan Gordon is the directorâ¨and producer of the documentary film "The Game of Their Lives." Nick Bonnerâ¨is the associate producer of the film. It's about the North Korean soccerâ¨team who upset the favored Italians in the 1966 World Cup. It was aâ¨performance that made sports history.â¨â¨Dan and Nick, we're going to take a break now, and then we'll talk some more.â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BOGAEV: Back with filmmakers Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner. Their newâ¨documentary, "The Game of Their Lives," is the story of how an unknownâ¨underdog soccer team from North Korea in 1966 brought off the greatest upsetâ¨in the history of the World Cup.â¨â¨Now let's talk about the making of the film, because that's a big part of thisâ¨story. How did you get access to the players in their homes? It's veryâ¨difficult for the press to get into people's homes in North Korea.â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: Yeah, it is...â¨â¨BOGAEV: And I understand, Nick, you have business connections in North Korea.â¨What are they? What's the nature of your business there?â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: I don't know if it's really business connections. But whatâ¨happened is I was a landscape architect lecturing in Leeds in Sheffieldâ¨University in England and in 1993 went to Beijing to teach at one of theâ¨universities there and do some more studying, and started playing footballâ¨with the British Embassy team. And one of the players--he was an attack, Iâ¨was goalkeeper--happened to be a North Korean. And for the past 10 yearsâ¨we've been best mates, and we just get on very well.â¨â¨And then when Dan came on with this idea of making this film, the first thingâ¨I thought was, `Well, who is this man, Dan Gordon?' No one goes into Northâ¨Korea to make--if you're going to North Korea, you're going as a journalist,â¨you're going for something certainly more than a football story. But we metâ¨up and I spoke back to my North Korean friend and said, `Is it possible for usâ¨to go and see if we can find these players?' And he sort of knew about theâ¨story and said, `Yeah, no, certainly.' But even at that time we thought we'dâ¨only have access to the most famous one, Park Doo-ik, and also one other, theâ¨goalkeeper, Rechum Yung, who was still coaching, and they'd been out withâ¨their team to Beijing beforehand. And it was from there that we--that sort ofâ¨initial trust.â¨â¨In North Korea, the reports we get are from journalists who go in, mostlyâ¨Western journalists; very few journalists from South Korea get in. And, ofâ¨course, if they're only there for a week, there's only so much they can learnâ¨about the country. Having been there for 10 years, I've got a lot moreâ¨access, and I think there's an enormous amount of trust.â¨â¨And so when we came in with Dan--and Dan, who can actually head a ball forâ¨about sort of 10 minutes in the air--we realized that--you know, I think theâ¨players very soon realized that this is an expert in football and theyâ¨relaxed, and suddenly the doors opened.â¨â¨BOGAEV: What rules and restrictions were placed on your filming? What wereâ¨you allowed to show and what not?â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: We thought, like everyone else, I think, who questions us, thatâ¨we would be wholly restricted and we wouldn't be able to this and we wouldn'tâ¨be able to do that. We got everything that we asked for and more. We wereâ¨assigned two minders, as you always are when you're in North Korea, but theyâ¨actually, you know, were our interpreters and really guides rather thanâ¨minders.â¨â¨We asked to go to Park Doo-ik's house. We got it. We asked to go on theâ¨trams. We got it. Everything that we wanted to get we got, which, you know,â¨for a filmmaker is just unbelievable. You wouldn't get that sort ofâ¨cooperation if I was making a film about the English World Cup team of '66.â¨â¨And the amazing story is that they took a documentary crew in 1966, and I knewâ¨they had this footage and I assumed that they would have kept it in theirâ¨archive. And when we asked to see it, they showed it to us. And it was quiteâ¨good, but color--which the English TV was black and white at the time--so it'sâ¨color film from '66. And they said to us, `We don't think it's good enoughâ¨quality for you. We'd like to take it back to negative and then reprint it toâ¨brand-new color positive.' And, you know, I thought that there is no way inâ¨the world that we can afford to pay for that. And they said, `No, no, no. Weâ¨will give that to you, because we want you to have the best possible film.'â¨And again, you wouldn't get that in England from anyone.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now relations are so tense right now between the US and North Korea.â¨And you two are probably among very few Westerners who have spent time inâ¨people's homes in the DPRK. So on this tour have you been approached byâ¨anyone from the US government or from foreign relations, policy organizations,â¨who want to get more of a handle on what daily life is like inside Northâ¨Korea?â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: Certainly, no. I think what is interesting, under Clinton whatâ¨was happening in North Korea was suddenly America was not being touted as sortâ¨of the fire-wielding enemy across the border. Madeleine Albright had beenâ¨over; the various exchanges were happening. They even thought there was goingâ¨to be an American cultural office set up in Pyongyang. And the rhetoric hadâ¨been turned down over the last 10 years. In 1993, it was very, very serious.â¨There was the threat, which, in fact, 10 years later is the exact same threatâ¨now, both from North Korea having the nuclear capability. In 1993 there wasâ¨the idea that the States would go and take a strike on one of thoseâ¨manufacturing bases for that. But since then, things calmed down.â¨â¨And when Dan and I started going in in 2000, it is almost like North Korea hadâ¨lost this enemy, that it wasn't every so often `The Americans are responsibleâ¨for this, the Americans have done this,' and there was positive press. Whatâ¨is so sad now is that there's such pressure that they feel that they'reâ¨getting from America that, in fact, all it does is refocus them on saying,â¨`Oh, yes, my gosh, there is an enemy across there. This is why we are whatâ¨we're doing.' Unfortunately, now it's back up to the old levels.â¨â¨BOGAEV: So when you were talking to those people on this trip while filming,â¨were you able to talk politics?â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: Yeah. I mean, we talk everything. I mean, I obviously prefer toâ¨talk football with anyone that would care to listen. But, you know, we talkedâ¨politics. And on this trip recently, you know, we were talking about theâ¨situation, and really, you know, we can see, you know, both sides. But fromâ¨their point of view, you know, they were saying--you know, they've done theâ¨air raid drills and they've had blackout practice. They're completely readyâ¨for war, which is frightening for us. But they, you know, again, just feelâ¨like 50 years on nothing's changed. They still have this enemy that wants toâ¨destroy them.â¨â¨And from their point of view, all they can see is that America wants toâ¨attack, and they're ready for it. And we think that, you know, it's tragicâ¨really that we're back at square one. And they say that they're notâ¨frightened, you know, of the enemy, but I'm sure that underneath it all, youâ¨know, it scares everyone that this, you know, potential standoff, you know,â¨could end in absolute catastrophe.â¨â¨BOGAEV: So what kind of sense do you have after making this film about theâ¨relationship between sports and politics?â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: I've always believed that football, you know, will transcend allâ¨boundaries, and that certainly was the case in '66. And what we found is thatâ¨it's the case now. We took the players back to Middlesbrough in October, andâ¨they received a standing ovation from 33,000 people there. They also receivedâ¨a standing ovation from 40,000 at Aveton. They were received by the speakerâ¨of the House of Commons, received by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Iâ¨mean, from the highest political level to the man in the street. And theyâ¨were welcomed as people, and they've never forgotten that, to the extent thatâ¨Middlesbrough's talking of twinning itself with Pyongyang and having a Northâ¨Korea day on July the 19th to commemorate that achievement and raising theâ¨North Korean flag from the town hall.â¨â¨So on a people-to-people level, you know, football, and sports in generalâ¨actually, transcends all boundaries.â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: It was obviously beautiful when we took the players--I mean,â¨Middlesbrough to the North Koreans is home; it's their sort of home abroad.â¨And we walked on with the remaining players, some players, and we weren't tooâ¨sure what the reception would be like. And just before a football match, theâ¨stadium's normally pretty empty. But we walked on, the stadium was full. Andâ¨33,000 people stood up to a man and a woman and a child, and it was the stuffâ¨out of movies. You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful reception forâ¨them.â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: Yeah. And basically, I mean, Park Doo-ik said that, you know,â¨the thing he took, you know, the English people took them to their hearts.â¨And really the most important thing he learned was that football isn't aboutâ¨just winning; you know, playing football wherever we go can improve diplomaticâ¨relations and help promote peace. And I think that's what, you know, a lot ofâ¨our audiences have taken from the film and really has been the main message ofâ¨the film, and especially at this moment in time, that, you know, there is anâ¨alternative to the vitriol that's being spoken at the moment.â¨â¨BOGAEV: I'd like to thank both of you. I really enjoyed talking with youâ¨about soccer, about the story today. Thanks.â¨â¨Mr. BONNER: Thank you.â¨â¨Mr. GORDON: Thanks.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Filmmakers Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner. Their new documentary aboutâ¨the North Korean soccer team that made World Cup history is called "The Gameâ¨of Their Lives."â¨â¨Coming up, a review of the new Scott Spencer novel. This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Review: Scott Spencer novel "A Ship Made of Paper"â¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨Scott Spencer's latest novel is called "A Ship Made of Paper." It gets itsâ¨odd title from an old song called "Just to Be With You," with lyrics like `Onâ¨a ship that's made of paper I would sail the Seven Seas.' Book critic Maureenâ¨Corrigan says that Spencer's novel makes you feel the heroism and the futilityâ¨of those lines.â¨â¨MAUREEN CORRIGAN reporting:â¨â¨Long before extreme adventure tales became such a hot literary genre, novelistâ¨Scott Spencer was charting perfect storms of the heart. His most famousâ¨novel, "Endless Love," describes teen-age passion run amok. Reading "Endlessâ¨Love" is like sitting in the eye of a hormonal hurricane and watching asâ¨ripped pillows, bloodied bedsheets and the broken psyches of the two youngâ¨lovers swirl madly around you. But though the love stories Spencer describesâ¨are typically out of control, his writing never is. He's such a precise andâ¨lyrical writer that feelings, experienced but possibly never expressed inâ¨language before, materialize in his words.â¨â¨It took me an unusually long time to read Spencer's wonderful new novel, "Aâ¨Ship Made of Paper," because I kept rereading sentences, savoring the shock ofâ¨their insights, delaying, I guess, what I knew would be the inevitableâ¨discovery at story's end, of the wreckage of his latest expedition into theâ¨thin air of peak emotional experience.â¨â¨When we first meet the main character here, 36-year-old Daniel Emerson, heâ¨foolishly thinks he's retreated from danger. Formerly a socially consciousâ¨lawyer in New York City, Daniel, who's white, was beaten up by some black kidsâ¨working for a client whom he failed to save from jail. Badly shaken, Danielâ¨moves back to his quaint hometown of Leyden in upstate New York, along withâ¨his lover, Kate, a novelist, and her four-year-old daughter, Ruby, whom Danielâ¨adores. But this escape into the quiet life boomerangs when Daniel develops aâ¨colossal crush on Iris Davenport, who's also one of the few black residents ofâ¨Leyden and whose son is Ruby's best friend.â¨â¨Issues of race run throughout this book. It's the autumn of the O.J. trial,â¨and black/white relations are on everyone's mind. And because we readersâ¨enter into every principal character's mind here, we're privy to the knee-jerkâ¨prejudices, fears and fantasies members of each race harbor about the other.â¨We also learn pretty early in the story that Iris shyly reciprocates Daniel'sâ¨desire, but their feelings are kept in check until one afternoon in Octoberâ¨when nature decides to conspire with the unconsummated lovers--a freak mammothâ¨snowstorm hits Leyden. And because the trees still have their leaves, theâ¨weight of the snow snaps them in two all over the countryside, downing powerâ¨lines, blotting out roads and isolating Daniel and Iris together at her houseâ¨after she's picked up the two kids early from their day-care center. Theyâ¨kiss, they couple and then the sky really begins to fall down.â¨â¨Iris' husband, Hampton, a stockbroker who works during the week in the city,â¨suspects that something's going on, but his self-regard is so towering that heâ¨can barely admit that Iris might be cheating. Kate, who's ironic, brittle andâ¨drinks too much, is also not a naturally endearing victim. Such is theâ¨brilliance of Spencer's storytelling, though, that you feel degrees ofâ¨sympathy for all these characters, felled like the trees by a blizzard out ofâ¨nowhere.â¨â¨In this passage late in the novel, for instance, Daniel, who's still livingâ¨with Kate, gazes at her at a party. As he describes his diminished feelingsâ¨for her, I think Spencer astonishingly manages to make our emotionalâ¨allegiances ricochet from Kate to Daniel and, finally, back to Kate again.â¨`She is wearing a black skirt, flattering and tight, a bolero jacket, clip-onâ¨pearl earrings. Her hands are on her hips. She looks lithe, high spirited.â¨If he didn't know her, he would want to. How strange it feels not to loveâ¨her. That love had once felt so stable, dependable. Its very lack of dramaâ¨made it feel eternal. And now to feel so little, to feel almost nothing,â¨outside of respect and a desire not to hurt her too badly, is like waking upâ¨one morning and finding that you can no longer enjoy the taste of bread.'â¨â¨Just when you think these characters simply can't go on in this tumult ofâ¨misery any longer, a horrible accident occurs that pretty much freezes themâ¨into place. Because of the accident, all that snow and, of course, all theâ¨wretched passion in this tale, I have a hunch Spencer may have intended "Shipâ¨Made of Paper" to be a black/white retelling of that grandmother of allâ¨American over-the-top illicit love stories, Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome." Ifâ¨so, it's a stunning contemporary literary companion piece. Like Ethan, Danielâ¨is a man who risks all for one dizzying ride of a lifetime, and then findsâ¨himself stuck headfirst, flailing in a snowbank, a heroic fool of fortune andâ¨stormy weather.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. Sheâ¨reviewed "A Ship Made of Paper" by Scott Spencer.â¨â¨(Credits)â¨â¨BOGAEV: For Terry Gross, I'm Barbara Bogaev.