[FOUNTAIN]Turn left at Hiddink Street

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[FOUNTAIN]Turn left at Hiddink Street

I visited Coach Guus Hiddink's hometown not long ago to gather information on his personal history and background. The villagers I met there were happy about the Korean soccer team's advancement as if it were their own team.

Then they all asked the same question: whether the Korean government really plans to erect a statue of him in Korea. I assured them that the Korean government would name a street or a square after Mr. Hiddink, in addition to the statue, if Korea reaches the quarterfinals.

They were all surprised, and also a bit envious of the honors Mr. Hiddink has earned in Korea.

Europeans and Americans consider naming a street after a person as a very high honor. Most German cities have streets named after great writers like Goethe and Schiller, including a street named after Goethe in a remote mountain village in southern Germany where Goethe once passed through on his way to Italy.

Berlin has eight Goethe streets and two Goethe parks, plus seven Schiller streets. Other names of famous musicians, scientists, philosophers, painters, and politicians can be found on street signs. Recently the Germans have named streets after young sports stars. The hometowns of Michael Schumacher, a famous Formula 1 car racer, and Martin Schmidt, a ski jumper, have streets named after them.

Schools, research institutes, airports and stadiums are also named after prominent people. The high school in Airfurt, where a student recently murdered many classmates and teachers, is the Gutenberg Gymnasium, Max Planck Society is the finest science research institute in Germany, and the airport in Munich is Franz Josef Strauss airport. The stadium of Kaiserslautern, a famous soccer team, is named after Fritz Walter, who was called a "hero of Bern" and who died only a few days ago.

What about Korea? Of course, there are also streets dedicated to great people such as Sejong-no, Eulji-ro, Chungmu-ro, and Toegye-ro. Recently, Soweol-gil in Seoul and Jiyong-ro in Okcheon were added, but there are still too few.

With the World Cup fresh in mind, let's make an Ahn Jung-hwan-ro, a Park Ji-sung-gil and a Hiddink-ro. Since the cross streets in front of Gwanghwamun have no particular names, we should name the place Hiddink Square. We should honor the heroes who will be a part of our history. Moreover, when we have Paik Nam-june-gil, Lim Kwon-taek-ro and Jo Su-mi-ga, our society will become richer as well.

The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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