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Ahn Jung-hwan, Lord of Ring, Occupied Japan

Posted November. 25, 2002 23:04,   


"Relieving Bullet"

That was the title that The Nikkan Sports used, on Nov. 25th, to describe Ahn Jung-hwan (26), who is now playing in the Japanese pro league, or J League. The paper praised Ahn`s performance in his team, Shimizu S-Pulse.

The paper put Ahn`s news on the top of its soccer section, reporting the first goal Ahn made in Sunday`s game. In the article, the paper implied that everything was relieved with Ahn`s presence. For the subtitle, the paper, lauding Ahn, used the following: "However hard the team is pushed up against the wall, everything`s OK as long as Ahn is there." On Nov. 20th, in the A-match against the Brazilian national team, Ahn scored one goal for Korea. Then, on Nov. 24th, in the first game after the A-match, he scored the first goal of the game against Kasima, earning him applause from all quarters.

"He looks like a movie star, but plays like a lion. On top of that, his goal ceremony is fantastic!"

Takako (39), a woman living in the Tokyo area, evaluates Ahn as a perfect star having all of the three elements: good-looking appearance, excellent performance and good manners. She first got fascinated with Ahn when she watched the quarterfinal of the Korea/Japan World Cup. She could not forget Ahn`s goal ceremony, which he made after making the golden goal in the overtime against Italy. But it is not the story of only Takako. Many Japanese became fans of Ahn on that day, and have showed strong, unyielding support for him.

Knowing this fascination about Ahn, J League teams have rolled up their sleeves to court Ahn. Simizu boasts Ahn as one of the three star players of it on its home page. In addition, the team has let Ahn take the cover of its 2003 calendar, which depicts Ahn running on the ground. At the souvenir shops of Simizu, everything containing Ahn`s photo are selling like mad.

Furthermore, Ahn has starred in a CF with one of the Japanese top actresses, which helps us understand how popular Ahn is in Japan. White Trash Charms, a renowned US accessory maker, has made a CF wherein Ahn appears with top actress Hujiwara Norika (31). It plans to run the ad from next month. Hujiwara said this was her first time of shooting a CF with a man. In other words, Ahn is commanding a high value in advertising.

On the other hand, Japanese TV stations add one more camera to broadcast a soccer match where Ahn plays. The additional camera is only for catching Ahn. Likewise, various papers go into every detail when it comes to running an article about Ahn. The papers reported, for example, what stamina diet Ahn takes, and what ingredients the diet has.

Currently, Ahn is tapping on the Spanish market, and Spanish teams are showing positive responses. It is possible that the negotiation starts in the near future.

Aware of this move, Japanese soccer fans are a little agitated, wanting to know whether or not Ahn would really go to Europe when the J League is over early next year. The Nikkan Sports reported that Ahn commented on his future just by saying, "I will think about it only when the season is over."