Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup 2010

For the first time, in an overseas competition, Korea made it to the top 16 in the World Cup. Celebrations and screenings dotted the entire country with gathering of red masses, as if the beloved Red Devils had made it to the final game. Even though the celebration were a little premature, I cannot hate. I have enjoyed every moment spent celebrating alongside the greatest of all soccer fans! The red. The beer. The soju. The horns. The inflated plastic slapping sticks and abundant clap-clap-clap-clap- "DAEHAMINGUK"! It's contagious! And Korea definitely puts up a fight for worlds greatest fans!

Last Wednesday night work let out at 9:30. Around 11pm some friends and I boarded the subway into Seoul. An all nigher for the sake of soccer! Dressed in red, pumped with espresso, we were headed toward Coex, one of the many national, outdoor screening locations. We arrived shortly before midnight and were kindly greeted with a sea of red and a contagious air of excitement... such things needed for a 3:30 am game.

Though the time difference between South Africa and Korea has made for some unfortunately timed games, Korea has shown up unwavering in support and dedication. We emerged from the station onto the streets closing down and thousands of people finding their seats in the middle of the street. A scene rather foreign to a foreigner like myself, but addicting nonetheless! How has America not caught the World Cup bug yet?

For those of you who didn't watch the game, which i assume is most of you, we tied Nigeria 2-2 and it was a fantastic game! I found myself sidelines on the curb sandwiched between two good looking Korea men for the second half-- and it was a good place to be. Surrounded by true fans, watching a fantastic game, yawning as the sun rose over Seoul. It was magical. The game clock ran out, Korea went crazy! In one massive, untied display of love, Korea advanced into the Top 16. Everyone packed up and headed for bed. Most of us headed to work in a few short hours.

Last night was Korea's final game in the World Cup. The celebration preparations started early and the fever spread. As I made my way to the track for an early Saturday morning run, I was greeted with a massive stage and screen set up on one half of the track. Sanbon had caught the bug too. Horns and music, chanting and red filled the streets early-- waking up a lazy fan like myself early Saturday morning.

This game was much earlier than the first. Just before the game some friends and I found ourselves sitting curbside of a Yongin corner dive called Cheers. We ordered some beer and sat surrounded by true fans. Some of who, under the affects of a few too many beers, took a particular liking to us foreigners. He and his cell phone dictionary found their sweet way to the step on my side. "May i ask what is your name?" he asked. I was short. Not usually rude, but dude, just watch the game. I know i stand out, but that's not an invitation to introduce me to the entire bar.

Anyway, he left just before the game really got started. Right after he pulled up into the middle of the intersection, on the wrong side of the road, to say farewell and pass along his business card to our table. Oh brother- you should really not be driving.

Well the game, again was fantastic! You could feel, literally feel, the joy and pains of each goal. Unfortunately, in the end Uruguay prevailed with a late game goal. Silence came over the country. After a short applause and a few last glass raises, Korea packed up and headed home. Korea showed up this year! I'm thankful to be in a place who appreciates soccer and the World Cup like Korea does! It's fantastic!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome midnight game story!! We went to a similar outing with thousands but fortunately it was during the day! haha Now you'll have to root for Brazil! :)