How is the World Cup celebrated in South Korea?
– Juyeon Oh
Some of you may be wondering how World Cup is celebrated in other countries, and today, I’m going to talk about what it’s like to celebrate the World Cup in South Korea. Before I get into details, let’s take a few minutes and learn about the history of South Korea’s national soccer team.
South Korea is one of the most known, and successful teams in Asia. They have participated in 8 consecutive, and 9 overall FIFA World Cup tournaments, which is the furthest any Asian team has ever gotten. Even though the team went through 5 World Cup tournaments, and not winning a single match, South Korea became the first and the only team from Asia to make it to the semi-finals when they hosted the 2002 tournament with Japan. Since then, the team improved a lot and was finally able to reach Round 16 in 2010 World Cup. They also, won the first 2 editions of AFC Asian World Cup back in 1956 and 1960. Not only just that, but they finished second in 1972, 1980, and 1988, and finished third in 2000, 2007, and 2011.
The team is usually called as “The Reds” by the fans and the media, because of the color of their kit. This led to a creation of the Red Devils in 1995, which is an official supporting group. The mascot for the Red Devils is a legendary figure from the ancient Chinese and Korean history. It is a symbol for victory and a guardian figure. The membership is open to anyone who wears red and supports the team during the games.
Couple of hours before the game starts, about ½ of the population or more gets together at stadiums, theaters, and public plazas where they can watch the game live on large screens. Everyone in the crowd wears red t-shirts to support the team. Cheering is also a big part of the game. The most common cheer is a combination of shouting and clapping saying: Dae~Han Minguk! Which means, Republic of Korea, and is followed by 5 claps. During the clapping part, instruments such as drums and thunder sticks accompany it to keep on going with the beat. The fans also sing a famous folk song called : “Arirang”, and several other songs that were made for the World Cup.
You can also watch concerts from popular singers/idol groups when you go to the bigger stadiums. The stadium itself already has great atmosphere and with concerts involved, it can get way more tense. Not only that, but also many celebrities come to watch the game, so you’ll be able to see one or two famous people cheering in the crowd when you go to these places. But really, the most important thing is being able to get together with hundreds of people and cheer as a whole, because you don’t see this happen very often. It’s great to see everyone get along to enjoy the moment especially since this is very rare in this generation.
While most people are outside of their homes to watch the game, many choose to stay home and enjoy the game with only their family. People who stay at their homes, usually order chicken and beer, which is like a traditional food when it comes to World Cup, (it’s similar to how we eat Doritos during Super Bowl). Chicken and beer may sound a bit nasty if you have never tried it, however those two are a great combination.
You now see and understand how and why the World Cup is such a big deal to the world, but to South Korea’s population especially.