Saturday, June 19, 2010


As many of you may know, the World Cup is kind of a big deal outside the United States. Especially when your country placed fourth in 2002 and you're determined to make a run for the Cup. Korea is one such country.

So far they've been doing good. They beat Greece 2-0 in their first game but lost 4-1 to Argentina in their second. That game would have been a lot worse if it wasn't for South Korea's miraculous goalie who is actually part ninja and part octopus. One of those goals was actually the result of friendly fire, a penalty shot that bounced off Park Chu-Young's shin and into the goal. At the moment he is one of the most hated men in Korea.

For a while in the middle, it looked like Korea was going to tie Argentina 2-2 because they just seemed to get a spurt of inspiration and decided to stop playing like shy Korean boys and actually go get the ball. But their shot at a tie ended with the third goal by Argentina, at which point the fighting spirit of the players, as well as bar patrons all over the country, leaked away.

Before the game against Argentina, there was actually a commercial on Korean television that featured the Argentine football team coming onto the field to the screaming of Koreans. The shouting gets so loud that they are hunching over and covering their ears. Unfortunately, thats not really how it went down.

I watched both games at a bar with my Korean soccer jersey on, screaming at the top of my lungs. Which is really the only way to watch a soccer game. Every bar, restaurant and convenience store had the game running on big screens, with everyone in a five block radius gathered around. Its not like people don't have their own TVs, but its more fun to do this kind of things with other people.

Every time I wear my jersey outside Koreans are always giving me thumbs ups or flexing their biceps at me and saying 'fight!'. Occasionally, they will burst into their favorite soccer chant: dae han min guk! which basically just means 'the people of Korea!' or 'United Korea!'

Even celebrities are getting into it. There are about ten songs out by various artists making various statements about the World Cup. The general sentiment is 'Go Korea!'

Despite rooting for Korea, my favorite to win would either be Argentina or Brazil. I would have added Germany to that list but they lost to Serbia last night which was an upset. Also, the US tied England but couldn't beat Slovenia? Whats up with that guys? Care to comment? I didn't watch the game myself because I was way too tired.

The whole country is waiting with baited breath for the next game in which Korea plays Nigeria. Since Nigeria lost to Greece, we figure we can take them and then we will be in the running for the Cup along with Argentina and 14 other teams.

On another related note, there is a rumor going around that four of the North Korean players are missing and roaming the South African country side. FIFA denies this and says that they have no reason to suspect that the players, who were a no-show for their game against Brazil, have defected. I, on the other hand, think these guys had a solid plan.

Drama drama drama....

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