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Hong Kong Set for Park Ji-sung’s Debut with Manchester United

Hong Kong Set for Park Ji-sung’s Debut with Manchester United

Posted July. 22, 2005 06:11,   


Hong Kong, where Park Ji-sung will make his official English Premier League debut with Manchester United on July 23, is already heating in anticipation of greeting the world’s top soccer club.

While 7,000 Koreans living in Hong Kong are excited at welcoming the first Korean Premier Leaguer, Byun Ho-young (61) the chairman of the Korean Association of Hong Kong since last year, showed special interest in it, saying, “I’ve gotten excited just like the way I greet my son who has succeeded and comes back home.”

Byun was a star player who was dubbed as “Spider Hands” in the 1970s and gained fame as the goalkeeper and captain of the Korean National Football team. He had a firm grip on Hong Kong football as he joined Seiko, a Hong Kong professional football team, played for six years and was nominated as a best player in three consecutive years.

He said, “I am so proud to hear the news that Park joined the Premier League. I am so glad that he is making his debut in Hong Kong.”

After retiring as a player in 1981, he started an apparel business and succeeded. It’s been a while since he’s talked about football, and he looked thrilled. He said, “I watched Park’s games many times on satellite TV when he was playing in Eindhoven. He is physically very strong and hardworking, so I bet that he will succeed. However, I didn’t expect him to be a Premier Leaguer so soon.”

He anticipates that “the Premier League is not easy to succeed in, but I believe Park will do well. This game in Hong Kong will be a good start for him.”

Meanwhile, the 40,000 tickets for the game are almost sold out. Only a few highest-price seats are left. Mark Chang, a publicity official for Manchester United in Hong Kong said, “We are continuously receiving inquiries for tickets but there is nothing we can do about it.”

Park Ji-sung has brought about a Korean wave of sports stars following the one of Korean soap operas and pop songs. Gwon Yun-hi, the editor in chief of “Weekly Hong Kong” for Koreans in Hong Kong said, “Park Ji-sung is arousing another Korean wave following Lee Young-ae in ‘Dae Jang geum.’ and Singer Bi (Rain). On the afternoon of July 23, when Park has a game, Kim Tae-hee, a Korean actress, will come to Hong Kong to promote a drama called ‘Love Story in Harvard’ and Hong Kong journalists complained that they have nothing to cover but Korean news.”

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com