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I Love You, Hiddink

Posted July. 20, 2005 03:14,   


“Wow!” “Way to go, Hiddink!’

July 19, 2:00 p.m., in front of the Kyobo bookstore in Gwanghwamun, Seoul. Fans cheered and applauded when Hiddink, the former Korean national soccer teamcoach (current PSV Eindhoven coach), appeared at an autograph signing party commemorating the release of the book “Heroes of Korean Football” which is about seven people honored in the Football Hall of Fame of the Korea Football Association. The sound of the clicking of the shutters of digital cameras and camera phones buzzed here and there.

Celebrities related to Korean football such as Jeong Mong-jun, president of the Korean Football Association, Lee Hoe-taek, the technical committee head, and Cha Bum-kun, the coach of Suwon Samsung, participated in the party as well, but the day’s hero was Hiddink.

People, young and old, men and women, all adore Hiddink. Kim Do-yeon (68, Bupyeong, Incheon) arrived at the bookstore at 9:30 a.m., waiting for more than four hours, and became the first person to receive his autograph. Kim, who will soon turn 70, said, “I’ve been his fan since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. I came here very early because I thought I would never have a chance to see him again if I didn’t do so today.”

Choi Dong-gyu (10), a fourth grader at the British International School in Jakarta, Indonesia, beamed and said, “When Korea reached the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup, all of the foreign students in Jakarta envied me. I’m so glad to meet coach Hiddink in person. I’ve got something to brag about when I go back there.” Kang Seok-jung (71, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul) requested an autograph on six uniforms and said, “I came here at the special request of my five grandsons.”

Two hundred people received his autograph, and as many as 1,000 swarmed around. Hiddink, after finishing the 50-minute party, said “I am so happy. I’m already honored to be in the book which records the history of former and present people of Korean football. I’m proud of it. I’m so grateful for my fans’ consistent love.”

Jong-Koo Yang Jae-Yun Jung yjongk@donga.com jaeyuna@donga.com