Well, I must say that last night’s World Cup was less than pleasing. The Korean team really did play hard, but Uruguay managed to score a goal and Korea never did quite catch up. I didn’t see the USA v. Ghana game, but I noticed over on Facebook that my younger brother has already opined and he is less than pleased. I share his displeasure, as I would like to see my own country do well. So, the two teams I was cheering for, namely Korea and the USA are now out. I don’t usually discuss sports over here on these pages, but being in Korea around World Cup time is definitely an experience.
In 2002, Korea and Japan hosted the World Cup. Korea made it to the semi-final round, a first in the history of the country. As the World Cup has gone on to other cities around the world, large TV screens have been set up in various parts around the city for everyone to go and watch the game. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is in red, it seems. I went to the game against Greece at the outdoor plaza around the COEX Mall. All the shops inside COEX were virtually deserted. Usually, that place is teeming with people on a Saturday evening. Korea has largely cured me, by brute force, of my claustrophobia, but even that was a little bit too much for me. I do find the support which Koreans have for their athletes and teams quite remarkable. Maybe it is because I come from a country where soccer isn’t that important. Here, it is very important. Had I not come to Korea, I’m not sure I would know who Park Ji-sung is, as I don’t follow British or Korean soccer much. Park Ji-sung has achieved national fame by playing for Manchester United. Unsurprisingly, many of my male students can tell me quite a bit about Manchester United. But thanks to my students, I am now very much aware of who he is, not to mention some Korean actors, pop stars, and others. I am wondering if they will show the game of Japan vs. Paraguay later this week. Seeing as the home team got knocked out, there are those hoping to experience the schadenfreude of watching Japan undergo the same humiliation.