Pig’s urine in a soccer ball? Find it here.If you are an enthusiastic Korean soccer fan, you may think the 2002 World Cup hit its peak when Korea took fourth place. Here is a chance to witness that impressive deed once again.
Korea’s first soccer museum has opened inside Suwon World Cup Stadium. It is endowed with the mission of preserving last year’s unforgettable memories.
The museum, which opened July 7 on the first floor of Suwon World Cup Stadium, boasts five wings of exhibits spanning the history of Korean soccer.
“This museum is built to forever remember and experience in depth the history of Korean soccer,” says Park In-chun, an official with the Korean Football Association. “It will also help foreigners understand more about Korean soccer.”
What better place to begin than with that one important accessory ― the ball.
One wing is given over entirely to exhibiting the history of soccer balls used in Korea, including a ball from the 1920s constructed of small pieces of lanyard, a bag filled with swine’s urine used as a soccer ball in the 1930s and the first machine used to manufacture a soccer ball in Korea. A pair of soccer cleats, belonging to a British sailor who visited Incheon (where historians say soccer was first played in Korea) in 1882 can also be found here.
The wing that exhibits North Korean soccer accessories should be interesting to visitors from any country. The North’s soccer team is shrouded in mystery, as it did not play international matches until quite recently. While not many people know about that team, the North shocked the world at the 1966 World Cup in Britain by defeating Italy, which was known as a soccer powerhouse. This wing includes soccer cleats produced in the North Korean capital of Pyeongyang and jerseys worn by the North Korean soccer team at the 14th Busan Asian Games last fall.
Not many people know when Korea first joined in the World Cup; after all, soccer was not always as popular here as it is today. Therefore, photos and statistics of Korea’s national soccer team at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland ― the nation’s first ― will interest soccer afficionados and laymen alike. Instructions from the 1954 team’s coach, Kim Yong-shik; a picture of the team taken just before the match against Hungary; a game ticket and other memorabilia vividly demonstrate Korea’s World Cup past.
The museum’s main hall is chockablock with exhibits reminding visitors how well Korea’s soccer team performed at the 2002 World Cup. Here you will find the soccer cleats of Ahn Jung-hwan, who scored the “golden goal” against Italy in overtime to help the team advance to the top eight, and the jersey of Lee Chun-soo, who was the first Korean scouted by the Spanish.
A plan by the Red Devils, Korean soccer’s official supporters, to explore the culture of soccer fans in Japan is also here.
Some hands-on activities are offered too. For instance, visitors can step into a players’ warm-up room after the tour and have their picture taken beside the jerseys of famous 2002 World Cup stars such as Ronaldo, a Brazilian known as the world’s best forward after scoring a record eight goals in a single World Cup, and Luis Figo, the renowned Portuguese midfielder. Visitors can also practice their ball-handling skills by taking a shot at a goal.
The entire museum tour takes about 40 minutes, and guides are available in English, Chinese, Japanese and French. Tickets cost 1,000 won (85 cents) for adults and 500 won for students and seniors.
by Jeong Young-jae
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