[FOUNTAIN]The ties that bind

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[FOUNTAIN]The ties that bind

A new friendship between Korea and Turkey has borne wholesome fruit. Lee Eul-yong, a midfielder on the Korean national soccer team during the World Cup, has launched a lucrative contract to play for a professional team in Turkey. Lee scored in the World Cup match that decided the third and fourth place winners between Turkey and Korea, with a remarkable free kick with his left foot. The Turkish Superlig side Trabzonspor, for whom Lee will play, decided to pay Lee an annual salary of $500,000, which is higher than Turkey's best professional players. It seems that the Red Devils' giant national flag of Turkey, which appeared during the match, moved the hearts of a country 8,000 kilometers away.

Ties with Turkey date back to ancient history. Some 2,000 years ago Turks, called Dolgwol in Korean, lived in Manchuria together with Koreans. Dolgwols were called "Turks" when they advanced into central Asia roughly 1,000 years ago. Their English pronunciation is "Turkey." This is the reason why Turks call Koreans kardeshi, which means "brother."

In the 20th century, Turks started to call Koreans kan kardeshi, which means a brotherhood formed by blood. The Turks participated in the Korean War and shed much blood. Among the foreign participants in the Korean War, Turkey suffered the third greatest number of casualties, following the United States and Britain. Roughly, 700 Turks died and 400 were missing or captured by the enemy. Remarkably, Turkey's soldiers volunteered to join that war. The remains of 462 Turkish soldiers lie in the United Nations Cemetery in Busan.

Afterward, the relationship between Korea and Turkey became closer. University students in Turkey's capital of Istanbul resolved on April 27, 1960 to send a statement cherishing the memory of Korean students who died at the April 19 uprising to topple the authoritarian government. The next day, the students launched rallies demanding democratization. After the student demonstrations, the military came into power. Turkey's General Cemal Gursel seized power on May 27, 1960. A year later in Korea, General Park Chung Hee carried out a coup on May 16.

The friendship between the two countries flourished as both lived under military governments until the beginning of the 1980s. A new friendship between the two countries began with soccer. Both countries are now democracies and soccer powers who met in the World Cup. That was a wholesome meeting following a long relationship.

The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Oh Byung-sang

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