[VIEWPOINT]Attaway, Senegal!The World Cup is not an ordinary sports event. Because the eyes of the world will be focused on this soccer festival, Koreans need to take advantage of this opportunity to raise the recognition of their nation. Of course, if the Korean soccer team manages to do well in its group matches, then moves on to the round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals, that would be terrific. What's more important is for Korea to put forth an image as a country with highly developed culture to the rest of the world. Korea staged the 1988 Olympic Games successfully and by doing so proudly declared its presence to the world. Now, the opportunity to let the world know more about us comes again. This must be another gift from God.
For the World Cup to be successful, everyone should take part with an open mind. Thus, a group has been organized with the name "Korean Supporters." The group's purpose is to promote kindness and friendship by welcoming, supporting and guiding foreign soccer teams and visitors. The group has also formed a cheering squad on a voluntary basis that will promote Korean culture.
For example, when a soccer team arrives from, say, Senegal, the members of Korean Supporters plan to wear uniforms of the Senegalese team, wave Senegal's national flags and welcome, guide and, using a few of their native words, cheer on that African nation's team. If the Korean Supporters do this in hotels, restaurants and streets, the Senegal soccer team and its fans would be impressed by our kindness and culture. When that happens, the Senegalese would have a far better perception of Korea and would form close friendships with Koreans, the kind of bonds that money cannot buy. If the Korean Supporters shape such relationships with visitors from all participating countries, this will be the greatest World Cup ever.
The World Cup is also a good opportunity to improve the reputation of Korea's exports. Koreans tend to associate only with people they know, and shy away from strangers. Frankly speaking, this is a little worrisome to me. That is the reason why the Korean Supporters was organized to cheer 15 soccer teams coming to the peninsula.
Simply greeting, smiling at and showing kindnesses to soccer players and visitors can improve our image. Refraining from littering, driving motorcycles on the sidewalks and selling items in subway cars would help, too. Even without joining Korean Supporters, people can make the World Cup successful by doing these small things. Furthermore, since Korea and Japan are co-hosting the event, it is an opportunity to let the world compare the two countries. The World Cup should also be an opportunity to promote our culture and economy abroad. We should be able to advertise and sell our culture, kindness and generosity as intangible goods.
Millions of people will watch the World Cup on television. We should raise our consciousness everywhere ?in beauty salons, restaurants, hospitals and movie theaters ? to let the world see what an advanced nation we are.
The writer is chairman of the Korean Supporters.
by Moon Sang-jun