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Shoot… Goal… `Soccer Sunday`

Posted May. 27, 2002 08:54,   


The entire nation, including Seoul, Kyeonggi, and Suwon, became excited in great heat on the 26th, the last Sunday before the World Cup’s opening and also the day of Korea-France evaluation match.

Most of citizens returned from picnics to watch the Korean football team’s last evaluation match on TV, and many crowded near the large screen at Seijongro’s Donga Ilbo building and Suwon World Cup Stadium, where the match was held.

On the other side, popular cinemas were noticeably quiet as well as large shopping malls, bookstores, parks, and ancient palaces.

Ticket seller at Jongro-gu’s `S` Cinema, Kim (24. Female), said that “a lot of tickets for popular movies are still left, when usually the house would be full until the last show”.

Office worker Song (32. Yangchon-gu, Seoul) said, “I cancelled the appointment with my friends, which was made 2 weeks ago, to come home and watch the football game with my wife.”

As the possibility for the national desire of the final 16 has become higher through the good performance during last match with England, there is more fever for the French match.

On the day, the whole area around Kwanghwamun, Seoul, was filled with citizens and cheering squads, who could not visit the stadium itself, 1-2 hours before the match in great cheering with drums and gongs.

Red-uniformed cheering squads gathered at Suwon World Cup Stadium from the morning, and tickets for the Korea-France match was sold out within 30 minutes of distribution.

“It was sad to see a lot of people going back, because they couldn’t get tickets,” said Kim Hyeon-Jin (33. female), a volunteer for Chinese at Suwon Stadium.

“I stayed up all night with 1,000 Red Devils members for cheering practice,” said Lee Chang-Hee (18. Songpa-gu, Seoul), member of `Red Devils`.

The Red Devils cheering squad practiced its peculiar 5-beat handclap 3 hours before the match, and raised the atmosphere by singing cheering songs. 43,000 spectators, who fill the stadium an hour prior to the game, repeated shouting out `Korea` and hoped for victory.

There were different events around the stadium from the morning, including drum and fife band performance of Yumkwang Girls’ High School, sponsors’ events, and Korean folk music performance.

All traffic was blocked within 1 kilometer around the stadium from 11 a.m., and consequently, National Route 1 and the ramp into Shingal-Ansan Highway suffered heavy traffic. However, many people showed mature citizenship by using temporary parking lots around the stadium and walking to the game.

Meanwhile, local organizations and the World Cup planning committee spent a busy day before the match for cleaning the stadium and checking on the facilities.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com argus@donga.com