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Nervous As Playing in World Cup

Posted June. 02, 2003 21:27,   


Ahn Jung-hwan looked a little embarrassed, rubbing his short hair.

He last wore such a short hairstyle seven years ago. When he entered the Busan Icons in 1998, he already wore long hair. Thus, it was probably when he went to Ajou University.

Ahn showed up in sweat suit at the boot camp in Koyang City, Kyunggi Province yesterday. He cut short his long hair Saturday, a symbol associated with him all the time. He was supposed to take a four-week military training at the boot camp. His wife Lee Hye-won came there to see him off.

"I never felt this way before. Combating feels like soccer. Joining the military feels like standing on the ground, ready to have a fight."

He was always handsome and immaculate. In a commercial he starred with a famous actor, people noticed his appearance more than the entertainer`s. But he looked awkward wearing short hair and sweat suit.

Every South Korean man has to serve in the army. Due to the remarkable achievement during the last World Cup, he was exempted from the regular military service. He just has to finish up the four-week basic military training. He may have felt sorry for it. He said, "I feel obliged to those who serve the regular military service term. I will do my best during my training period. I will make up for the rest by scoring nice goals on the ground."

When he made the game-winning goal in the May 31st game against Japan, he took off his shirt and showed off his affection for his wife with the tattoo on his back, which reads [sic.] "Hyewon Love Forever." When he was about to enter the camp, he returned to his wife, and hugged and kissed her again.

"The last goal ceremony was not prepared in advance. I felt really happy, and that was why I took off my shirt. So I exposed my new tattoo to people."

Lee said to her husband, "Take care, OK? I will write you every day."

"When he cut his long hair, I felt really sorry. But it is his duty to serve in the army. Fortunately, he just has to do it for four weeks." Still, her eyes were full of tears.

"By the time I finish the training in June, I will get the result on my efforts to move into a European league. I will advance and make my fans happy. Take care when I come back."

Ahn stroke into the boot camp, full of energy.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com