Now down to business. "What business?" you might ask. WORLD CUP BUSINESS!
Korea is, as I mentioned before, super freaking pumped to be playing in the World Cup right now. I will once again assert, as I did in an argument with a drunk guy the other night, that Korea will never love soccer like, say, South America loves soccer. But they are a passionate for any KOREAN who is doing well in an international sport. I swear that it could be synchronized swimming or table tennis, if a Korean started to rock at it, madness would ensue. And I am not saying that is a bad thing; in fact, it has been tons of fun to watch!
For weeks now my kids have been coming in to school with various World Cup related shirts. The Korean team/fan group is called the Red Devils, or the Reds for short. In an ad campaign that was clearly not run by a native English speaker, thousands upon thousands of shirts, bandanas, ect have been emblazoned with the logo "Shouting Korea: Be the Reds." Uhh, ok. I'm in. I love me some soccer and I am absolutely adoring being in a country that gives a crap about what is happening on the field.
Here is an EatYourKimchi video showing the excitement about the World Cup that is washing over Seoul:
Since the weather was so obnoxious last weekend when we tried to go to COEX, I decided (like the monumental idiot that I am) that we should try going to City Hall. This is a photo of the crowds that gathered in City Hall during the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by South Korea and those bastards across the "East Sea," Japan:
Dana had gone the night we attempted COEX and had left early because it was rainy and crowded, but I reasoned that we could handle it. WRONG. The game against Argentina was set to start at 8:30pm, so I got to City Hall station around 7:30pm. I commenced to stand in line for the bathroom for ALMOST A HALF AN HOUR. It was absurd. This was actually the SHORTER line:
Too many people!
Ayzia arrived and joined me in line, as did Dana. By the time we got into the bathrooms they were (not surprisingly) pretty gross, but I did what I had to do and got out of there. Some of the Korean girls were taking SO FREAKING LONG...I suspect that they were applying make-up in there...as though there aren't reflective surfaces all over the place that they could use without tying up the bathroom. We waited a few more minutes for people who were supposed to be meeting us, but at 8:00pm we decided to head out. By that time, multiple exits were already closed and being blocked by police, because there were too many people outside near the exit.
We made our way to the other side of the station and went up the stairs and directly into UTTER MADNESS. There were several large screens set up for the game, and thousands upon thousands of people were sitting in neat little rows on the ground with their red devil horns glowing. There were literally more people than I have ever seen in one place.
A sea of devils.
We couldn't really see from that area, so we decided to follow a large group that was walking towards the screens on the right side of City Hall Plaza. At the beginning it was okay. Yes, it was hot and extremely humid, but people were moving and there was minimal pushing.
Snapping a photo before stuff went crazy.
Then, fairly suddenly, it became a horrible, writhing, pushing mass that you could not escape. Everyone behind us was pushing and pushing and you couldn't control where you were going or breathe at all. I literally had to tip my head back and look at the sky to get a breath of fresh air. We were covered with the sweat of strangers, which was beyond disgusting. It was actually really terrifying. I thought my purse was going to break as it was pulled and twisted by the crowds surging around me. My camera was on and in my hand and I was concerned that the zoom mechanism would get broken as it got squeezed between me and someone else, but I couldn't even get to my pockets to put it away. It was terrible. One girl [who shall remain nameless] was squeezed so hard by the crowd that her front clasp bra came undone. That is a lot of squeezing and pushing!
Ayzia started to freak out and wormed her way out of the crowd, towards the people sitting. That was the last of her I saw that night. At one point, people in the front started yelling and pushing everyone back, so we got swept back in the direction that we came from. It was very easy to lose your footing and I was concerned someone was going to get trampled. The crowd kind of separated and Dana got pushed to the left as I was pushed to the right. All of a sudden, there was an opening right in front of me, that happened to be the steps down into the subway. Of course, I tripped AGAIN. I can literally say I have given blood and sweat in my support of the Korean team. I stood on the steps, totally blocked from seeing the screen where the game was starting, and attempted to call Dana and Ayzia to figure out where they were. I finally got a hold of Ayzia and found out that her purse had been open during the craziness and her camera was either stolen, or more likely, lost. I feel terrible for her, because I know how pissed I would be about that. She was understandably upset and decided to go home. Dana and I finally met in the subway station and decided we needed to get the hell out of there and go to a bar where we could get something to eat and cool off while watching the end of the game. We ended up going a few stops away to Sinchon where we met up with some of her friends at a chicken hof. On the way we stopped to get some Baskin Robbins (best choice of the night) and met up with her Korean friend Sunny who had tried unsuccessfully to meet us at City Hall. We arrived at the bar at half time, just after the only goal by Korea was scored (we actually saw that one playing on a TV at a Family Mart as we walked to the bar). As those of you who care already know, Korea lost to Argentina 4:1...but to be fair, Korea is ranked #47 while Argentina is ranked #7. Argentina really didn't play against Korea as much as around them. The Argentinian team's ball handling and running were just leaps and bounds ahead of Korea, and without the superb performance of the Korean goalie, it could have been a lot worse than 4:1!
Smiling, even in the face of defeat!
After the game I jumped on one of the last trains and headed home to Gildong. I didn't get to bed until almost one, so I was exhausted the next day. At least Fridays aren't too crazy, just four classes of third graders. I did have to do more work than a usual Friday because I was leading the class since Yeon Ah is on her honeymoon, but they were good so it wasn't bad at all. Friday evening I came home, ate some dinner and vegged out watching TV for a while before meeting the Gangdong-gu Cru for the US vs. Slovenia game. I had scouted a local bar called the 4*C Garten, and it turned out to be a GREAT place to watch the game. I got there about 20 minutes before everyone else (unintentional, believe me...I hate sitting in a bar alone like a weirdo) and everyone arrived between 10:50pm and 11:30pm. It was a decent game, except for the last goal that should have counted but didn't thanks to a call that was questionable at best (hate that ref!). It would have been MAGICAL if we had come back from being down two at the half and won the game, but I will settle for a draw. It was frustrating to watch the US goalie for the first half (stay in the freaking BOX you idiot) as he let two balls into the net with little resistance, but he stepped it up the second half, which was good. Anyway, it was a super fun time yelling at the screen, drinking a "three story" beer, and generally hanging out with friends.
LOOK at that beer! It is Crazytown, USA.
Frank and Melissa looking adorably patriotic.
(Thanks to my mom for sending the box of Fourth of July decorations early!)
"Take a picture of how mad I will be if the US loses."
I think we should sic Shannon, the patriotism monster, on that goalie.
"Now take a picture of how excited I will be if they win!"
Team USA Cheering Squad: Gangdong Division
Top: Jamie, Frank, Julia, Charles
Bottom: Me, Shannon, Melissa, Chrissy, Justin
I got home around 1:00am and hit the sheets. Today I've basically lounged around, done multiple loads of laundry, and caught up on recent TV. Tomorrow afternoon I am going to a coffee meet up with some people in Seoul who know ASL, so that should be fun! I really miss signing and when I come back to the US for good I am going to look into taking some classes again.
Below are some of the amazing, awesome, and hilarious videos that have been put together by various K-Pop groups to show their support for the Korean national team. I so wish the US got even a fraction this excited. My favorite is Victory Korea...but they are all catchy!
Big Bang and Kim Yuna (yes, the figure skater): The Shouts of the Reds part 2 (with lyrics)
I hear this song ALL THE TIME! It is creeping into my dreams...
Big Bang and Kim Yuna: The Shouts of the Reds part 2 (dance)
You'll all be quizzed on this dance when I get home. (Ahem...Carl...ahem)
Super Junior: Victory Korea
I would like to point out that with 13 members, Super Junior could more than field their own soccer team...
2AM: No. 1 (World Cup Song)
That is one adorable slow jam (that is, inexplicably, mostly in "English"). I can say that cause I "wanna do."
T-ara: We Are The One
Ole is almost exclusively spelled "Olleh" here, and it said whenever you win something or do something well, haha.
Kara: We're With You
Though it lacks the obvious soccer imagery, it was written to show their support for the team, apparently.
BEG, Rain, 4Minute, Brown Eyed Girls, etc: World Cup Song 2010
I couldn't find this with English subtitles, but it is FUN.