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[Soccer & I] Cartoonist Lee Sang-Mu

Posted February. 28, 2001 18:47,   


Like most people who spent their childhood in the 1950s, I and my friends used to play ``hide and seek`` or carry each other ``piggy-back`` style.

At that time, one of the most popular items for sale at the local market was balls made from tire tubes. They seemed very expensive to us. Finally, one of us managed to buy one and it put all of us in a festive mood. If the rubber ball deflated or was punctured, we rushed to the bike shop to have it repaired. In the long run, the ball ended up looking like a face that was covered with band-aids or sticking plasters.

I saw a regular soccer ball for the first time when I entered middle school, but this ball made of cow hide was so solid and heavy, and my shoes made of thin cloth were so light, that it used to feel like my foot was broken when I gave it a kick.

One day, one of my ``seniors`` at the soccer club asked me to join the team after complimenting me on my kicking ability. I was glad at the time but eventually I gave up soccer because I wasn`t willing to put up with the hard training. I was too short and small for a soccer player.

Instead, I became a cartoonist and produced many comic books about the game like ``The Boy Who Does Not Cry,`` ``We Are Brothers,`` and ``Shaven Head.``

People frequently talk about the many problems with Korean soccer these days, but I think it has made great strides. In my work, ``The Boy Who Does Not Cry,`` the hero, Tokko Tak, leads the Korean team to the World Cup championship. I do not doubt that our team will advance to the group of 16 in the 2002 World Cup, and my hope is that it may even join the final eight. This would be a great way to commemorate the fact that Korea and Japan were chosen to jointly host this world-class event.