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Korean World Cup organization in chaos

Posted October. 18, 2000 14:12,   


Spectators at the 1998 World Cup in France numbered 2.5 million. The worldwide TV audience for the event was estimated at 370 million.

In the words of the World Cup Organization General Secretary Stein, the World Cup is a "window." Through the World Cup, the host nation sees the world event as the world sees the host country. However, the perspective with which the host nation sees the world and the perspective of the world as it sees the host nation differ markedly. The host nation that must open all corners of its society to the world and must take special care to enhance a positive image.

Furthermore, the 2002 World Cup will be hosted by two nations. As such, greater attention is necessary. Although the responsibility of successful hosting of the event will lie with both South Korea and Japan, there is a burden of the two countries being compared. From the game management to the social order, lodging facilities, transportation ease, we must not be negligent.

However, our preparation for the World Cup seems to be on shaky ground as of late.

"South Korea seems washed in high hopes that the World Cup event would be as successful as the Olympics," a Japanese reporter remarked cynically.

Let us take the example of the error in the English web page of the Korean Organizing Committee for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan as pointed out by the National Assembly inspection report. For a considerable time, the English page carried a message that advised travelers to avoid visiting Korea during the World Cup event and pointed out that any travel to Korea should accompany inoculation for dysentery and typhus. The English page also carried various negative information concerning Korean heritage, culture and economy. The page had been hacked.

According to the Rep. Shim Jae-Won of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, the error had been discovered two months ago. What in the world are the people in charge of the page doing?

Such negligence by the Korean World Cup organizing committee can be seen in various other places. The organization replies like a broken record, "There are no problems," to all questions concerning the efficiency of the construction of stadiums, lodging facilities, transportation provisions, safety measures against hooliganism, establishment of the integrated electronic network, and ticket sales.

Also, having two cochairmen for the organization is worrisome. Their division of responsibility seems unclear. However, the organization stresses "clear sailing." The absence of clear management and the loose mentality of Korea in preparing for the World Cup are causing many to fear that Korea might become known as "an underdeveloped country unable to adequately host the World Cup." Even the soccer team's level of performance also has become a cause of worry.

Yoon Deuk-Hun dhyoon@donga.com