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Lingering Image is Not Soccer But Koreans

Posted July. 01, 2002 23:04,   


The New York Times reported on June 30 that the image that will linger from this World Cup is not the soccer, but the people of South Korea. As its national team kept winning, the country became united and self-confident in ways that people could not have imagined.

According to the Times, some Korean intellectuals wondered whether the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in red, the color of communism, in one location, meant the country was vulnerable again to authoritarianism. But people seemed to decide, sometimes cheering is just cheering, an outpouring of support and unity and national pride.

During the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the society seemed rigid after a long period of military dictatorship. But people were reserved and reluctant despite the great accomplishments of their national teams. Democracy has reformed the society and has evidently turned up the volume on its sports fans.

The Times highly estimated the World Cup as soccer`s version of the Velvet Revolution. No violence, no loutish behavior, just celebration that was jubilant and orderly.

The times also reported hospitality offered by the Korean people to foreigners. The paper took a taxi driver in Pusan an example. The taxi driver took a visitor to the stadium for a match, insisted on taking him to his hotel afterward, and then took him to the airport the next morning, offering to stop for breakfast.