Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Cheering in red!

Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Park Chu Young (ROK) for Adidas

So Argentina totally creamed us yesterday. I mean, like totally. OMG they were good. They wove in and out of our defense like pro skiiers on amateur slaloms. Our players were playing with all their might, we were cheering them on like no tomorrow, but it just wasn't enough. You really do have to give credit where credit is due - Argentina had a better team, period.

I had to watch the first game at home due to a sore throat and fever, but feeling better this time around I went out to meet friends to cheer on our national team.

Koreans take cheering seriously, especially if it concerns the national team. We're such a tiny country that when fellow countrymen try to make an impact in the international world in whatever field, we cheer them on like mad. Mad!

Our national team wears red. The official football team supporters call themselves the "Red Devils", a term that was adopted from the foreign press when the national youth football team made a surprise entry into the semifinals of the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship. The foreign press had dubbed our team the "red furies" - which was translated into 'angma (악마, devil)' at the time and the name stuck.

So when the World Cup comes around, the Red Devils and most of the nation come out in full support, wearing red. Public places are cleared to make space for communal cheering. Football stadiums, baseball stadiums, public plazas and even streets are blocked off and traffic veered in other directions to make way for the fans. Jumbo screens are set up where there aren't any. Festivities are planned to entertain the waiting fans, who usually are in place at the cheering grounds way in advance. (See video clip below.)

Can you imagine? The games are happening on another continent, at the other side of the world! In 2002, when we were cohosting, it was 1000 times more intense than this.

Anyhow, I went by COEX before the game where the street in front, a 4.6 km, 14 lane street was being completely cleared for the fans. See:

Waiting crowd:

I ran into two girls who were selling slogan mufflers. They were so cute! I had to ask if I could take a photo and thankfully they obliged. (두 분, 정말 귀여웠어요! 사진 찍게 해줘서 감사! 해상도 높은 사진 필요하면 이메일 주세요. ^_^)

I thought the Lee Chung Yong (the cutie that I mentioned at the end of my previous post) mask over the teddybear backpack was a nice touch.
Left the crowd and went to the other side. Photo from above: 3 hours before the game, when only half of the street was cleared for rush hour traffic.

This is what the street looked like when the game started: photo from Newsis. A true sea of red!

Friends and I headed to another indoor venue to cheer on the team. Mini sea of red.
Photo of the screen we were watching on. The blurry dude is Lee Chung Yong (again!), who managed to score the single goal against Argentina, preventing a complete blowout.
(See? He's a fine player. I don't like him just because he's cute!)

My voice is still gone from yesterday. Our next game is scheduled for Wednesday, at 3:30 am. Unless I'm sick as heck, I'll probably be somewhere in the crowd at that insane hour. In red, of course.


Puffin Watch said...

Interesting history how Korea's team became known as the Red Devils. I did not know that. A bit like how "magic time" came to mean a woman's period.

seoulsuzy said...

Had the translation for 'furies' been better, there would be less opposition from the churches, methinks.
And 'magic' is so convenient a word. ;P

Puffin Watch said...

I remember some churches being upset in 2002. Oddly, I can't see the catholic church in Canada being upset about the use of devil. Heck, they have a position called the Devil's Advocate.

And then we have deviled eggs and deviled ham.