INCHEON, South Korea - Jong Il-Gwan scored an extra-time winner to put North Korea into the Asian Games football final Tuesday but was sent off minutes later, ruling him out of the gold medal match.
Jong's curling free-kick against Iraq settled a frantically paced match in which neither side could get the advantage until the extra period.
Five minutes into extra time, North Korea were awarded a free kick in the penalty arc which Jong, 21, skillfully curved over the wall and into the corner.
Celebrations for his fifth goal of the tournament were short-lived, however.
Jong got a second yellow card during one of the many standoffs between the two sides and was ordered off, burying his face in his bright red shirt as he walked away.
With North Korea's champion weightlifters, including gold medalist Om Yun-Chol, in tears in the crowd, the team sank to their knees as the final whistle went and the communist state reached only their second Asiad final.
The game started badly for the Koreans when defender Kang Kuk-Chol was stretchered off in the first minute.
Both sides had chances, but the best fell to the North.
Sim Hyon-Jul saw one first-half shot skim the Iraqi crossbar, Yun Il-Gwang missed an open goal from a corner and Pak Kwang-Ryong, North Korea's only player to have taken part in a European Champions League game, crashed a 25-metre free-kick off the woodwork.
North Korea will play South Korea or Thailand in Friday's final.
Their only other appearance in the final was in 1990 in Beijing, when they lost a penalty shootout to Iran.