When the cheering stopped, they kept goingThe 2002 World Cup didn’t just make the Korean national soccer team and its coach, Guus Hiddink, into national heroes. The leaders of the Red Devils, the hordes of mostly young, red T-shirted Koreans who cheered the soccer team in every stadium of the nation and became the basis for a new cultural faction, also were stars of sorts.
Is there life after the Red Devils? For these three, it’s a life of individual distinction.
Prior to the World Cup, Yoon Doh-hyun, 30, was a run-of-the-mill vocalist in a rock and roll band, Early last year, the Red Devils sought out Mr. Yoon with an urgent request: to compose a cheerleading song for the national soccer team. And compose he did. His hit “Oh Pilseung Korea!” (Win or Else, Korea!), which became a virtual anthem for soccer fans and was spread around the world, instantly ratcheted up his reputation as a celebrated singer in Korea.
Although “Oh Pilseung Korea” is a nimble remake of the song for Hermes, the Bucheon SK soccer team’s sponsor, it nonetheless gained widespread popularity among youth.
When Mr. Yoon’s “Oh Pilseung Korea” became the national cheering song, his band went on to issue an “Oh Pilseung Korea” album to raise funds for the National Community Welfare Organization.
Mr. Yoon was swamped by advertisement contracts after the World Cup, and his Yoondo-hyun Band sold more than 400,000 albums amid a fairly weak period in Korea’s music business. These days, Mr. Yoon is preparing another album.
Mina, the unofficial “Miss 2002 World Cup,” debuted as a singer after the World Cup. Her skimpy attire and enthusiastic cheering during the Korea-Italy match impressed foreign reporters, who laid the foundation for the 30-year old’s entertainment career.
Her first album, released last October, featured the hit songs “Dreams Come True” and “Pick Up the Phone.” Mina was scheduled to perform at the Korea-Japan soccer match on May 31 in Tokyo, once again in her Korean flag outfit.
Lee Jin-seong, the “Cheongdam-dong Whistle,” famous for his unique, exuberant cheering technique, broke into the entertainment world with a push from his World Cup fame. Today, Mr. Lee, 27, is a reporter and host on several celebrity news television programs.
Finally, the Red Devils, the national soccer team’s official supporters, are now disbanding to prevent any abuses of such a potent organization. This requires electing a chief delegate from all Red Devils, rather than rely on the former president-centered management setup.
For an organization to carry the Red Devil signature, it must contain at least 300 members, each with a minimum of six months’ involvement. Plans are afoot to create a museum with soccer videos and books in Daehangno, a college student hangout in north Seoul.
by Choi Min-woo