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SEOUL 101: Watching the World Cup Live in Seoul

July 2, 2010

Gah, I’m so tired. I’ve been out the whole day interviewing and meeting people. I really wish there were more hours in a day. The awesome thing is that there are Korean exams next week and I have a paper and test for my Anthropology class due tomorrow. -_-” I told myself that this summer holidays would be chill, even with taking 3 classes and doing research and even though it is more relaxed than normal school semester (mainly because I don’t have to care about my grades), I do wish I had more downtime. To be honest, when I saw that classes were from 9am-1pm, I thought it meant just that. I didn’t expect there to be tests almost every week and a weekly group project – not to mention I’m playing catch-up. Well, I asked for it so I’m not complaining (all that much), I’ll just let out a little whine to myself here and there, so bear with me. I’ll be okay. I just haven’t been keeping up with the daily journals that Cornell requires and I’m a bit worried but I am hoping that lengthy entries which chockful of pictures can signify a compilation of many days’ activities and excuse me from daily entries. Anyway, my daily life is pretty boring and school-like – I don’t think Cornell wants to read a diary made up of grammar rules.

As everyone already knows, Korea lost the World Cup 아주 슬펐~ I’ve been faithfully attending every match “live” since the first and I must say that it’s been an amazing, eye-opening experience. It’s really the first time I have ever been in an Asian country with decent football skills in the World Cup (a brief history: Korea was in the final 4 in 2002!) and I would say that Korea is one of the most prideful countries in the world – in a good way. If anyone has interacted with Koreans, you would never hear of them speaking bad of their own country – and they support their country in football with the same ardor! There are a few prime spots where Koreans tend to gather and my friends and I ventured out:

1. COEX (This was Korea’s first game)

2. Gangnam (This was my first time ever in a pub. Took loads of pictures but nothing is quite as exciting as being outside with tens of thousands of people. The fact that Korea got whooped by Argentina was also quite a downer.)

Since I already blogged about the first, and the 2nd was no biggie, I’m going to talk about the 3rd and 4th games. In my opinion, the third game was the best. It was probably because there was a sense of recklessness in all of us being young Korean groupies and camping out for 5 hours (from 10pm to 3:30am) before the game, right next to the historic Han River, even with class the next morning.

The Han River is of historical and political significance, as is any other major water body in mankind history. It links both North and South Korea, and there was a Water Panic in 1986 because North Korea threatened to release their dams and flood South Korea. Its total length is 514km and flows right into the Yellow Sea. Because of this, historically, the Three Kingdoms of Korea were strategically tussling over this river due to its promise of being a profitable trade route to China. Because of the contemporary North-South tensions, no civilian is allowed to navigate on the river for trade, thus it is no longer of use. However, despite this,  the Lee Myungbak administration is still pushing through the major Han River initiative, despite the protests of the general public and environmentalists. I just had a discussion about this controversial topic with a Korean today and she believes it is because he wishes to leave a legacy behind, just like he did with Cheongyecheon when he was Seoul’s mayor.

Lesson over. Haha, now let’s move on to what we did that night! Be prepared to be flooded with pictures!

So we reached the station (I forgot the name of it) at 10pm and waited till 3:30am for the match to begin, despite having class the next day at 9am. I honestly was having apprehensions about it the night before because I am never the kind who has the ability to pull an all-nighter but I’m glad I went! It was the most enjoyable match because Nigeria had no sportsmanship at all and (nobody told us this buttt…) there was a concert! With famous Korean celebrities! I’m not the kind who follows the Korean entertainment industry so Serena and Yuki were having a ball of a time but I was just like, “huuuhh whoooo??” (I know, so cool right) but thankfully, eventually got into the groove of things. So these were the names there that night: MC 몽, Brown-eyed Girls, 4 MINUTE, T-max, 사이? ( I hope I got them right…Danielle don’t freak out) The fact that it was right next to the Han River (my favorite place in Seoul) is another big plus. It was my first time to the Han River but I’m definitely planning to head back there with my parents again. I have already planned to have a picnic there with them, with some simple Korean food and to watch the sunset.

After the first goal!

Cheryl, Serena & Yuri! 🙂

We watched the match till daybreak

The very expressive duo in front of us intensely watching the match

At the end of the match against Nigeria. We WON!

Awww. The power of soccer - it brings manly men together for a manly hug.

Pumping their fists in jubilation! You could really feel Korean pride!

The camera men have the best view, honestly. Here one sits against the backdrop of the Korean sunrise.

KOREA!

We watched the soccer match with 45,000 people at 한강! 기분이 좋다!

WOOOOO!

Happy Koreans leaving the match

Just a little glimpse of the HUGE crowd. The Han River is beautiful in the morning!

Thankfully we rushed out of the area despite being in the front few seats. Look at that crowd! We had to walk to the next nearest station to take the train because it would have been JAM-PACKED where we initially were!

Desperate supporters making a scramble for it across the highway and up some gravel wall.

Sunrise at the train station 🙂

Obviously, because I only got back to my dorm at 6:45am, I didn’t sleep. And obviously, because of that, I wasn’t awake in class. Oops. The teacher understood though (I hope) because it was due to the match – and I’m sure almost every Korean was up that night. It was a crucial match!

This was the last match of the season – battling for top 8 within the sweet 16. We were pitted against Uruguay and it was a very clean, fair and somewhat boring match (for the first half at least). Miki, Silvia and I decided to head to Sichong because it was the most popular place to catch the game – 60,000 supporters compared to 45,000 at Hangang. We were there 3 hours early and bought tonnes of snacks and even a mat. However, it started poring around 9pm and we jointly decided to go home. I know, what a waste! But it didn’t stop raining for around 3-4 hours and because everyone stands up and uses their individual umbrellas, you can’t really see the screen. The ultimate irony was that Luying was supposed to come along but she declined because she doesn’t really like soccer. But she was sooo bored at home that she left the home at 9pm to get to Sichong to catch the game with us – and simultaneously, we left Sichong to come back! The best part was that once she reached Sichong, she tried contacting us and realised that her phone was spoilt and so she stayed at the grounds for the entire match, taking pictures with random people. While we were watching the game live in the dormitory lounge. Go figure.

At the entrance into Sichong.

Of course, they have another wall full of foreigners shutting their ears because of "the shouts of the Reds". In this case, it was conveniently next to a toilet sign.

Ajumma selling kimbab among the throngs of people.

Sichong! This is the largest crowd Seoul has. It averages 60,000 people! PHWOAR!

Us girls! L-R: Me, Silvia & Miki 🙂

I love how the whole building is plastered with the image of the sky! It's supposedly to hide ugly construction works.

Woooo~ I love this picture!

The countdown! 1.5 hours more to the match~~

THE CROWD!

Watching the match!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    July 14, 2010 9:05 pm

    *catching up on your entries*
    LOL I appreciate the shoutout… (it’s 싸이 but everything else is an A+) =D
    aaand… OMFG I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SAW BROWN EYED GIRLS!!!!! I’M SO JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but I thought narsha was in south africa… maybe she left after. anyway.
    and man I wanted one of those shirts you guys are all wearing so bad. but they’re hard to find here. figures -__-

    and once again you’re soo lucky you got to experience the world cup in korea~ *SIGH* maybe in 4 years I’ll be doing the same?! haha

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