[EDITORIALS]Keep World Cup pride

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[EDITORIALS]Keep World Cup pride

The party is over. For the past month, Koreans poured out everything they had. As a result, the World Cup finals was the most successful in history.

The 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan attracted attention from the international community because it was the first to be held in Asia and to be staged by two countries.

It was the most perfect and safest World Cup. Close cooperation by the organizing committees of the two countries prevented much-feared terrorism and left the matches both hooligan-free and drug-free.

Korea's progress to the semifinals and Japan's advance to the Round of 16 gave Asians pride and hope. In particular, the most valuable achievement of the soccer event was that the two countries took a step toward the future together, overcoming their unfortunate past of Japan colonizing Korea.

Also, Korea showed the whole world its ability to stage the world's biggest sports event along with Japan, an economic superpower, and received much favorable credit for that staging.

The achievements do not stop there. The national frenzy of street cheering, which flooded the entire nation in a sea of red, instilled new possibilities and self-pride into the Korean people.

The World Cup has also provided the country with an important opportunity to boast its advanced information technology and to enhance its national image and the brand awareness of Korean-made goods.

Success, however, depends on how well Korea takes advantage of the World Cup effects in the long term. The soccer World Cup is over, but the post-World Cup has only begun.

Koreans should go back to their everyday lives quietly and work to achieve a new round of national advancement through post-World Cup master plans.

For starters, the country should come up with practical ways to continue to utilize the state-of-the-art stadiums built in 10 cities across the country. Also, Korea should draw up long-term measures to maintain the tangible and intangible World Cup infrastructure, such as a mature citizenship and volunteer tour guides and interpreters, to attract more foreign investments and to promote tourism.

The success of Hiddink-style soccer was achieved through the recruitment of the foreign coach, Guus Hiddink, and helped to show the world Korea's image as a positive and open society.

The country should also study ways to capitalize on the improved image to make itself the hub of business and distribution in Northeast Asia. Although the North Korean navy vessels' outrageous intrusion in the sea off the west coast Saturday put a damper on inter-Korean relations, the South should still seek to revive the traditional Seoul-Pyeongyang friendly soccer matches in a bid to promote peace on the Korean peninsula.

It is up to companies to capitalize on the successful World Cup to increase the value of their export goods. If the government attempts too much to take the leadership or intervene in the "Upgrade Korea" campaign, it might backfire.

The government should remove its hands from the social efforts to bring together ebullient national energy in a creative way and to overcome conflicts in our society.

The government should not repeat mistakes it made in 1988, when its bids to artificially create Olympic booms failed.
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