Let the South cheer and yell for its national team

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Let the South cheer and yell for its national team

Whoa. I have had enough! This time my fuse went off. You went too far. And by you I am talking about our beloved government. I have got to hand it to you, though. When it comes to inter-Korean relations, at least there is consistency. We all know that priority No. 1 is not to upset the North, no matter what. But the price has been steep indeed, and now this.
It is understandable that organizers of the upcoming festivities to commemorate the country’s independence from Japanese colonial rule have to look out for the visiting North Korean delegation. They have to look out for their “feelings.” BUT only a person with a brain that has more holes than a Swiss cheese could have made the decision not to allow banners and the South Korean flag into the stadium while banning the crowd from chanting “Daehan Minguk!” during a soccer match between the national teams of the South and North.
We already have abstained (twice) from voting on a human rights resolution criticizing North Korea in the United Nations. Without even saying that that is tantamount to having blood on our own hands, we are now handcuffing ourselves on the very thing that makes us different from dictatorships: FREEDOM. The right to express ourselves. The right to criticize or sympathize with anyone and anything without fear.
What use is it to have a bunch of people sitting in a stadium clapping like puppets? What is different and makes our nation so great, we have to display in a natural way. To have better living standards is one thing. A North Korean delegation sitting in a bus driving through Seoul might see all the modern buildings and cars driving around. But having the materialistic upper hand has its limits. Who knows, they might shrug it off as fake facades built to impress them. They might think that all the cars in Seoul have just been called up from the whole nation and told to drive around in the capital for 24 hours, taking shifts. In their world that would be possible. No. That is not how we should impress them. Waving a flag, whistling, screaming, swearing, booing and looking alive ― looking like a human being ― is the best way to show them what they are missing.
I still remember during the Athens Olympics when a North Korean athlete who had won a medal in a shooting discipline went on and on to praise the “dear leader” for all his good fortune.
A South Korean athlete, who also won a medal and was sitting next to the North Korean, flatly said that President Roh Moo-hyun did nothing for the shooting team, which is always low on funds. The North Korean must have had a heart attack. We need more of this. Lots more.
Sports can be used to foster better relationships between countries. But not in this way. Showing solidarity is one thing but if for one moment we forget what sets us apart from the regime in the North where would that leave us?
The Red Devils, the official supporters’ group of the national squad, said on its Web site that it saw no need to attend the game because the sole reason for their existence was to cheer only the South Korean team. They know what they are doing. Our government apparently does not.


by Brian Lee
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