[EDITORIALS]Be on our best behavior

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[EDITORIALS]Be on our best behavior

In 100 days trumpets will herald the beginning of the Korea Japan World Cup soccer games. Despite an economic crisis and a downturn in our economy, after six years of preparations we have arrived at the point where we can reap the benefits of holding such an event. Although the World Cup involves only one sport, its size and complexity is above that of the Olympics. In addition, the spotlight is brighter and the participation level higher. The 1988 Seoul Olympics was a catalyst for establishing a name for Korea; during the 2002 World Cup, one of the first global sports events of the 21st century, we surely have to do more than announce our existence.

During this much anticipated event the number of foreign athletes, journalists and tourists visiting Korea is expected to reach 400,000. The main task for us is to make their stay safe and comfortable so they will take good impressions back to their home countries. Construction of 10 stadiums, the "hardware," has been completed; the focus must switch to the "software," such as improving our citizens' awareness of the event. Bus and taxi drivers have to work on being kind and driving safely. The lack of persons fluent in the languages of the World Cup athletes and visitors and the serious shortage of accommodations have to be addressed, too. On top of this we cannot forget the bad habit of ripping off foreigners. We need to tackle a lot of serious problems and keep in mind that these fundamentals are a measure of a country's cultural level.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security for the event has received more attention than for any previously held World Cup soccer games. Besides the potential danger from terrorists, we must also cope with the prospect of threats from soccer hooligans. Not one mistake, however minor, can be allowed in terms of safety. The performance of the Korean team is of intense interest, and to fulfill our dreams of reaching the second round, everyone involved should do their utmost to ensure this event does not end up a party where we have nothing to celebrate. All Koreans -- its citizens, athletes and the government -- must think about their tasks and make sure that everything is going according to plan.
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