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Soccer Fever Hits Koreans in Germany

Posted January. 02, 2006 03:07,   


“Leipzig and Hannover, whoopee!” yelled 28 year-old Kwon Chang-ho, who is majoring in sports management at Braunschweig University, and 27 year-old Kim Bo-young, who is studying in Hannover Messe at Leipzig University.

On December 9, both students cheered while watching the World Cup group drawings on TV, held in Leipzig, Germany. They cheered because the Korean National Soccer Team would be playing their matches in both cities where they lived. Braunschweig, where Kwon lives, is about 30 minutes away by train from Hannover, where the Korean team will take on the Swiss, and two hours from Leipzig where the Koreans will play against the French.

Kwon who came to see Kim in Leipzig, with the New Year approaching, said, “I will starting making game plans right now. My German friends are also very interested in Korea. I will go cheer with my German friends.”

Both students are alumni of the Chungang University German Literature Department. Kwon is a member of the class of ’97, and Kim is a member of the class of ‘98. When they were undergraduates, they participated in the school’s soccer club. Kwon was the main striker and Kim was the team’s manager.

When they went to study to Germany, they kept in regular contact with each other, although both lived in different cities.

Kwon flew all the way to Germany because he liked soccer so much that he wanted to study soccer management.

“This semester I’m so busy, taking seven classes on theory, physical education classes in soccer, badminton, and judo, and a CPR licensing class.”

He added, “It was a shock to me when I first visited a stadium. Everybody would stand up and sing their team’s song continuously for two hours.”

Kim, listening to Kwon’s stories about soccer, commented, “In Leipzig, formerly part of East Germany, there is a bond that is difficult to feel in the former West Germany. Although there will be a great number of French supporters, I am not worried because we will be rooting our hearts out.”

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com