Tag Archives: soccer

It’s no Quidditch, but I guess it will have to do.

World Cup Cheering

Originally uploaded by meaganconnor

A single car races down Goyang City’s normally bustling main drag. The pedestrian walkways are barren. The only people on the sidewalk stand still with their eyes quietly fixated on the televisions in corner stores or pubs. It’s 10:00 pm and in businesses that have been closed for an hour employees are huddled around a miniature TV or a TV-enabled cell phone. Then, a cheer erupts from every apartment building, bar and corner store in Korea and the previously motionless observers are jumping up and down and screaming. The Red Devils have scored a goal. This is the World Cup in Korea.

Korea’s soccer dreams revolve around repeating 2002, the year when Korea both hosted the World Cup and exceeded everyone’s expectations by making it to the final four.  In 2006, Koreans were disappointed to see their team ousted after the first round. However, Korea’s hopes were high again for 2010 when they entered the World Cup as the only team unbeaten during the qualification tournament.  (Most of my information about Korea’s recent soccer history is gathered from students’ essays and Wikipedia, so please correct me if any of this is inaccurate.)

Seeking to both profit from and fuel the excitement, stores quickly filled up with Korean-themed T-shirts, tattoos, bandanas, and blinking devil horns for fans to wear while cheering on Korea.  Big Bang, one of K-pop’s biggest brands, teamed up with Kim Yuna — AKA: Queen Yuna —  to create The Shouts of Reds Part 2, an official cheering song with accompanying dance moves. It’s catchy, but the dance is surprisingly difficult to pull off without looking like an idiot.  Not that I’ve tried . . .

As a foreigner, cheering for Korea nets high praise.  My students would ask me, “Teacher, Canada have soccer?”

“No,” I explained, “we don’t have a team in the World Cup. I’m cheering for Korea.”

Their eyes inevitably lit up when they heard that last part. “Oh! Very good, teacher!” They would say.

Despite the enthusiasm, Koreans are not unrealistic in their expectations. When I asked students and co-workers if they planned to watch the next soccer game they always said yes. They would then tell me the stats and rankings of Korea’s opposition, and whether or not Korea was expected to win.  So when Korea was slotted to play Uruguay for a knockout game on Saturday night, the atmosphere was enthusiastic, but perhaps not as electrifying as the first-round games.

Nonetheless, I took a bus into Seoul and joined about 60 000 other people around City Hall to cheer in the rain.  The video above is just a snippet of the cheering and yelling that was going on. I apologise for the Blair Witch camerawork. Clearly my future is not in documentary filmmaking.

Korea ended up being eliminated that night but I’m still so grateful that I got to cheer with the masses.  There were times that I was a bit sad to be abroad during Canada’s Olympics, especially since nobody in Korea cared about the gold medal Hockey games. However, being in a soccer-crazed nation during the World Cup has been an amazing ride.  Here are some pictures of the experience:

Students watch Korea take on Argentina

Fans gather at Seoul Plaza to cheer for Korea

Korean Red Devil Soccer fans

"Daehan-minguk!" (Republic of Korea)



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I’m back!

I haven’t been writing much at all lately because I haven’t really wanted too, not because I haven’t been doing anything blog-worthy. I’m going to make an effort to write a bit more regularly now. So, let’s get caught up on the events of the past two months, in no particular order.

A few weeks ago I went to a baseball game with a co-worker.  She is, to put it mildly, obsessed with the game. She’ll rush home after work to watch the game online and she goes to games every weekend that she can. She has even contemplated moving into Seoul so that she can be closer to the stadium. So, I am not exaggerating when I use the word “obsessed.”   This worked out well for me because as much as little as I know about baseball in North America, I know even less about the Korean league. My co-worker told me all of the team’s stats and who the best players were, so I at least understood why the crowd went nuts when number 50 went to bat.  Although that doesn’t mean that I always knew what was happening. Fortunately, I have a strong imagination. I didn’t take many pictures during the baseball game, but I did manage to snap a pic of Doosan doing a pre-game ho-down.

Boring people would call this "stretching."

The game was between the Doosan Bears (from Seoul) and the Lotte Giants (from Busan.) Each team had an army of fans that came decked out in jerseys and hats and wielding inflatable clappers.  In any other situation, I probably would have found the noise and crowds obnoxious, but in this case it was somewhat infectious. Sadly, Doosan lost.  I was mostly sad because only the Lotte fans were doing the wave. It didn’t catch on in our section. Boo.

A few weeks later, on Children’s Day, I went to a soccer game with some friends. This time we were watching Seoul FC take on Songnam.  The level of intensity was about on par with that of the baseball game. Almost all of the fans wore jerseys and had signs and noisemakers. The game took place at World Cup Stadium and had over 60 000 people in attendance, which was a new record for Seoul FC.  Like the baseball game, the soccer game had cheerleaders to lead the crowd. However, cheerleaders seemed boring compared to the fireworks. Yes, the soccer game also had fireworks for when Seoul scored a goal. Awesome. And maybe a bit dangerous.

Real fans pose with signs they find on the ground after the game.

The soccer game also had an amazing half time show that consisted of  some Taekwondo superstars.  These kids were fantastic.

If I had to choose then I would say that I enjoyed the soccer game the most because it has more consistant action. (I get bored while waiting for things to happen in baseball.)  Although I would certainly go back to a baseball game too.   Oh, and as a final note, North America could learn some lessons in sports pricing from Korea. Each game cost less than ten dollars.

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