The past few weeks, Seoul has been overcome with World Cup fever. There are T-shirts, bandannas, devil horns (as the team is known as the red devils), vavuzalas, and so much more for sale on pretty much every street corner. I got myself a Park Ji Sung Jersey. He is their team captain and most beloved player. There are commercials with Korean idols singing songs to cheer on the Korea team and they even have their own cheering song. We have even had a new class at SEV called world cup song. In this class we teach the kids their world cup song in English. They even have a little bit of a dance to go with it. Needless to say, there is no shortage of support for the South Korean team.
It’s been so awesome to be a part of all the excitement. I’ve actually become a bit of a soccer fan in the process. We watched the Korea-Greece and Korea-Argentina games in a local bar/restaurant here in Suyu. We had to make reservations and the place was packed. I got free horns to wear and these blow up tube clapper things. We use these to do the traditional Korean cheer “Daaaaaaaae Han Min Kook (Korea), clap clap, clap clap, clap.” It was great to experience the win with the Greece game. Even though I’m not a huge sports fan, I get so much energy from watching with a crowd and I share their excitement and a whole range of emotions. For the Argentina game, a friend from Argentina wore his Argentina jersey to the bar. What’s amazing is that even though Korea has a lot of pride and support for their team, they didn’t beat him up or threaten him or anything. In fact, they took pictures with him! That’s how polite this culture is. It really amazes me sometimes.
We have also been following the US games of course. We watched the US-Algeria and England-Slovenia games here in the apartment with friends from England. We had the US on the computer and England on the TV. Thanks to a last minute goal from the US we were all happy at the end of the night.
Seoul has several places throughout the City where large groups can gather outside to watch the matches. Last night a group of us went to City Hall to watch the game. It was packed to say the least. It was a literal sea of red. Until it started raining, that is. Then the crowd thinned out a little bit and became a sea of umbrellas and ponchos. But the water did not dampen the spirit of the crowd at all. We were all still chanting, singing, dancing, and standing in the rain all through the game. Unfortunately it ended in a loss for Korea. This is the best that Korea has done since placing 4th in the 2002 World Cup, held here in Korea. Though I was hoping for a Korea-US match, both teams are now out of the running. And so ends the excitement, it was good while it lasted.