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World Cup Is A Cheering Festival – Pledges of Korea-Japan Cheerleaders

World Cup Is A Cheering Festival – Pledges of Korea-Japan Cheerleaders

Posted April. 01, 2002 08:55,   



“Wouldn’t cheering be fun, when it’s exciting?”

President Shin In-Chul (34. picture) of `Red Devils`, which will stand in the van of soccer fans during the 2002 World Cup to cheer for the Korean national soccer team, said confidently, “I’ll make sure the whole nation enjoys the World Cup.”

Behind Shin’s confidence of getting soccer fans actively involved, there are `songs`. Considering that Korean people traditionally enjoyed exciting occasions by singing songs, the cheering squad is to produce 8 cheer-songs into a CD and to distribute it from the mid-April.

“Soccer fans would love the songs, because they are all exciting. If cheer-songs spread nationwide, people will naturally become one with the cheer squad at the stadium.”

The anticipation is to make soccer fans so familiar with the cheer-songs that they will unaffectedly enjoy soccer, singing the songs at home or even while watching TV. Since rock singers are singing the songs as in rock music, the exciting songs are expected to spread among the people at ease. However, the problem is that even if the fans get very excited, there is not enough space for their enjoyment.

“The government or the organizing committee only care about how the World Cup looks in the eyes of foreigners, but that is wrong. The World Cup should be an occasion where Korean people are able to thoroughly enjoy, and such space must be provided.”

The fact that soccer fans can only put out their heat at stadiums is undermining the development of the soccer culture. Shin pointed out that in Europe, people run out into streets and become one in celebration of their country’s victory, but Korea has no environment like that.

“If Korea advances into the final 16 defeating Poland, U.S.A., or Portugal, and soccer fans all rush out into Seoul’s Gwanghwamun street, what would happen? Police will be busy breaking up the crowd. Now is the time to create the space and culture by, which the entire nation can become one.”

Shin also predicted that there will be great `culture shock`, as European soccer fans will run out to the streets, wearing their uniforms and drinking alcohol, when their country wins. What Shin is insisting is that the government must now do something for such a natural culture of the sport.


“Korea and Japan both have not won a World Cup final yet. As supporters, we are in well-intentioned competitions,” says President Matsushita Keiichi of `J-Supporters (J-Union)`, which is the cheering squad for the Japanese national soccer team. He said Korea and Japan should hold fierce cheering competitions during the 2002 World Cup finals.

J-Union is one of the two greatest Japanese cheering squads, along with `Ultra Nippon (Ultras)`. They always stand at the opposite side of the Ultras at stadiums to compete in cheering. Members count approximately 800. Matsushita was a soccer player until college. He left the field due to a waist injury, and became actively involved in cheering for the Japanese national team, which he had been doing since childhood. J-Union was formed when J-League (Japanese professional soccer) was established in 1993. His cheering colleagues naturally got together to form the team. In order to fill the audience’s seats with blue, the same color as Japan’s uniform, J-Union even distributed 300 blue T-shirts to spectators. Matsushita says that it has been 10 years since the establishment of J-League, and the national team has improved to great extent. Of course, he also believes the supporters improved as well.

He says, “I used to be interested in my favorable players only, but now I think of how they will relate to the performance of the team as a whole.”

Matsushita says he met Korean friends through soccer, and learnt about Korea’s genuine culture. Especially, he said with a big smile that the World Cup would be a good opportunity for the Korean and Japanese supporters to learn from each other. Matsushita plans to watch Korea’s international matches before the World Cup finals begin. That is for knowing the friends, who are living through the same generation of 2002.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com