They took the stage at the People's Palace of Culture in the capital Pyongyang while 400 students subjected them to a six-hour reprimand.
Reports claim coach Kim Jong-Hun was made to work on a building site and expelled from the Workers' Party of Korea. He was blamed for "betraying the trust of Kim Jong-Un", one of dictator Kim Jong-Il's sons, after the country went into the tournament with high hopes of qualifying from the so-called 'Group of Death'.
The criticism was led by Ri Dong-Kyu, a commentator for state TV, which made the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Portugal its first ever live sports broadcast. The decision to show the game live came in the wake of an encouraging 2-1 defeat to Brazil. North Korea lost their final game 3-0 to Ivory Coast.
Radio Free Asia claimed the dressing-down took place on July 2, but news only leaked out of the famously secretive country this week.
Japanese-born pair Jong Tae-Se and An Yong-Hak escaped censure, flying straight to Japan from South Korea.
A source from South Korea’s intelligence community told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper: "In the past, North Korean athletes and coaches who performed badly were sent to prison camps. Considering the high hopes North Koreans had for the World Cup, the regime could have done worse things to the team than just reprimand them for their ideological shortcomings."