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22 Million Fans Watched Team Korea

Posted June. 15, 2006 03:48,   


Various figures verify that the whole nation was watching the soccer game against Togo, Korea’s first-round match in the 2006 World Cup.

According to the National Police Agency, an estimated 2.18 million people chanted “Dae-han-min-guk” (the name of the country in Korean) in about 267 places across the country on June 13. The number is 700,000 more than the police expected. The number of people turned out to have quadrupled compared to the first-round match against Poland in the 2002 World Cup, when about 500,000 Koreans cheered on the street.

Moreover, nearly half of the Korean population, including the fans on the street, seems to have watched the game with Togo on TV. The combined ratings of three terrestrial broadcasting companies during the game were 73.7%. According to the survey released by TNS Media, a rating researcher, when striker Ahn Jung-hwan scored the winner at the 26th minute into the second half, the three companies’ combined ratings went up to as high as 82.5%. That can be translated that 22.55 million out of the total Korean population of 47 million watched the game through TV.

In the Gwanghwamun area, where a lot of soccer fans gathered to see the game together, some of their cell phones did not work right before the game started. The systems of their telecommunications companies were overloaded and slowed down as the companies diverged a deluge of phone calls to other areas.

The number of calls surged especially before and after the game as people in the area wished them good luck before the match and celebrated victory after the game with their friends on the phone.

From 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on June 13, the number of phone calls increased sharply compared to the same time the previous day, with SKT up by 29.2%, KTF by 34.6%, and LGT by 30.6%. The number further rose between midnight and 1:00 a.m. the next day compared to the same time on June 13. SKT’s number of phone calls went up 51.4%, KTF’s were up 55.2% and LGT’s were up by 51.9%.

Meanwhile, T-shirts with the Red Devils (the name of Korea’s official soccer supporters) design on them just walked out of shelves. An official for Basic House, the official Red Devils T-shirt manufacturer, said, “Initially we estimated to sell about 700,000 shirts. But we produced an additional 300,000 at the end of last month. Now even the additional shirts are almost sold out.”

G-Market, an on-line shopping mall, has been selling more than 3,000 World Cup T-shirts and 100 headbands everyday since the beginning of June.

Also, convenience stores and restaurants around Gwanghwamun, where approximately 500,000 fans flooded in, made a huge profit that night.

After the game, subway stations were overcrowded with passengers going back home from the streets. Between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on June 14, the number of the passengers of subway lines 1 through 4 was 423,000, more than eight times that of an ordinary day, 50,000.

The World Cup also attracted criminals, decreasing the overall number of crimes in the country.

The National Police Agency said that from 8:00 p.m. June 13 to 2:00 a.m. June 14, the number of crime reports through the phone was 2,743, a drop by 19.3% from the same day two weeks ago. The number decreased by as low as 49.4% from 10:00 p.m. to 0:00 a.m. during the game.

ditto@donga.com zeitung@donga.com