25 June 2010

대한민국 !

World Cup madness. My life for the last 3 weeks.

Game night: hundreds of thousands of Koreans migrate to two central locations in Seoul.

Sporting red shirts, hats, face paint, and flags, they mix and mingle and drink cheap beer until the first whistle blows.

Enormous screens are placed on site, streets are shut down, and en masse (and on cue), everyone sits down to watch the game.

Only to stand up again.... GOOOAAALLL!!!

And stay standing for approximately 8 minutes, dancing and cheering and trumpeting plastic horns. I took this video at least 5 minutes AFTER the goal was scored. And the crowd stayed like this for another 10 as the game wore on...I'm just here, lost in a sea of red, trrrryin to fit in... 대한민국 !!

15 June 2010

Shouting Reds!

Soccer is in the air, and the beloved Red Devils won their first World Cup game last Saturday against Greece, 2-0.

Koreans are among the most enthusiastic people on the planet, but when it comes to soccer, the frenzy soars to new heights. The excitement is electric, a palpable energy that buzzes through the country, sending shock waves from coast to coast on game days.

I'm thrilled to be in a soccer-loving country during the World Cup. I'm thrilled to be rooting for a team that I didn't know existed 11 months ago. I'm thrilled to be dreaming with the rest of this nation, hoping beyond hope that this small country has a chance among the ranks of the big wig Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Brazilian teams.

Maybe we're a bit foolish, but if you were here, you'd get swept up into the electrifying frenzy too.

My friend scored some FIFA tickets in May, and we got to go to the last soccer match before the World Cup.

Korea vs Ecuador. Korea won, and it was EPIC.

The stadium was packed 30 min before the match started.

The famous "cheering section," on the right. They were wild, ramboncious, and enthusiastic for 90 straight minutes. They chanted and cheered and clapped and shouted and waved flags and...

...lit flares?

For 90 straight minutes.

It was insane. I felt like I was at a homecoming game on steroids.

Thought that a video might capture the electricity, especially after a goal...

... now imagine that noise channeled through a megaphone into your ear. That's how loud it was.

This same Korean team is now competing in South Africa, and when it's game time, the people gather at this stadium, pack it out, and stand for 90 minutes straight, eyes glued to the big screens, cheering and shouting and clapping and lighting flares into all hours of the night....