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Koreans Show High Level Of Citizenship

Posted June. 11, 2002 23:39,   


The number of Korean citizens who rooted for Korea in the Group D match against the US was as many as one million across 81 regions in the nation. The next day those people went back to their normal lives. The number was the biggest since after June 1987 when people waged democratic movements. However, there was no sign of getting out of control or of anti-American movements, which well reflects the fact that Koreans have a high level of citizenship.

Most of the rooters did not hold umbrellas not to inconvenience each other. In addition, after the game, they cleared wastes off the streets. Some 300,000 people who were around the Sejong street and the City Hall square gathered wastes at one spot to make cleaning easier later for dustmen.

Some ten students including Lee Hui-gweon (14), a middle school student, cleaned the streets until late in the night. They said that they just wanted to do it after people left and that winning a game is not all about rooting.

Lee Sang-ho (51) at the Cleaning Administration Department of Jongro District Office said that the cleaning usually takes over ten hours but it took just three hours yesterday. He added that he was deeply impressed seeing people raking damp papers off the street.

Citizens also showed good rooting culture. Even though it rained from late afternoon in Seoul, most people stayed for rooting and they even didn’t hold umbrellas not to inconvenience each other. An office worker Lee Hui-gun (36), who watched the game in Han River Park, said that he didn’t hold the umbrella because it would blind other’s sight and that he couldn’t do it because all the people there were just one mind rooting for Korea.

While there were worries about anti-American movements because people had borne grumbles over the lost gold medal of short track skater Kim Dong-seong at the last Winter Olympics, there was no such movement. The authorities had placed some 6000 police officers around the US Embassy and in regions around and also had barricaded the embassy with cars to prepare for unexpected incidents. However, there was no disruption around the region. In the morning there had been leaflets spread around the embassy. The leaflets read ‘ We condemn the US soldiers stationed in Korea.’ However, the prevailing view among citizens was that the World Cup match is one thing and the anti-US sentiment is another.

There was no hooting against American players at the Daegu stadium, where the match was held, and rooters even applauded when an American players showed good performance.

Seocho Police Office in Seoul originally planned dispatching some 300 police officers around Marriott Hotel in Seoul, where the US players stay but cancelled the plan.

The fire headquarters of Seoul city placed rescue officers and fire fighters in major streets just in case, but no emergency cases was reported. Professor Hyeon Taeg-su at the sociology department of Korea University said that Koreans’ citizenship and individualism seem to be making a positive progress. He also stressed that true individualism involves the responsibility for others as well as each individual’s right to enjoy.

Jin-Kyun Kil sys1201@donga.com leon@donga.com