Rock anthem disrupts soccer fans’ solidarity

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Rock anthem disrupts soccer fans’ solidarity

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There’s only three more months until the 2006 World Cup kicks off in Germany. Korea’s fans are already stockpiling their flags, red shirts and gongs. So can we expect the massive displays of national unity seen during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup?
As things stand now, not likely. Fans are engaging in a furious debate over the team’s cheer song.
It’s not just any song: It’s a rock version of the national anthem, performed by Yoon Do-hyun Band, the same people who performed “Oh, Pilseung Korea,” which was a fan favorite in 2002.
Making things more complicated, the song is used in a commercial for SK Telecom, Korea’s biggest mobile service operator.
Many Red Devils, the members of the cheering squad for the national team, were incensed by the idea of using a rock version of the national anthem for a cheer song.
“The version is useless for a fan song,” said Kim Jung-yeon, a Red Devil member. It’s not unusable because it’s the national anthem, she explained ― it’s bad because it’s too long and too fast. “Anyone who has ever sung a cheer song knows that the rock version of the national anthem will leave them out of breath.”
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Ms. Kim also pointed out that the national anthem is already heard in stadiums. “The national anthem is heard only once at a soccer game,” she said. “People inside the stadium calm down, and right after the national anthem ends, the game begins,” she said.
Others feel the song is disrespectful. “The national anthem symbolizes Korea. It stands for the national integrity. How dare you can arrange the song for the rock and use it as a cheer song?” said Lee Jong-soon, 53, a housewife.
Jeon Young-yun, 20, a college student, said he couldn’t accept that the national anthem was used in a commercial.
But many people welcome the idea of using the national anthem for a cheer song. “When I heard the rock version of the national anthem, I realized that it could sound intimate to me,” said Rhee Yun-jin, 26, a graduate school student. “It was a shock.”
Asked whether the using the national anthem hurts its integrity, Ms. Rhee shot back, “Then did we disgrace Korea in 2002 when people made hot pants and tank tops with the Taegeukgi (Korean flag) and painting it on their face?”
To ease the controversy, Daeum Entertainment, which Yoon works for, decided to offer an MP3 file of the rock version of national anthem for free. “If you don’t like the arrangement of the national anthem, just don’t sing the song. It’s not an issue for debate but a matter of choice,” an official at the entertainment company.
Yoon is not the only one who arranged the national anthem: A punk rock band, No Brain, parodied the song in its 2000 album and a daegeum (large transverse bamboo flute) player Kim Young-dong, a K-pop group DJ DOC and a rock group 815band also did. The difference was that Yoon used the national anthem in a commercial.
Some wonder if the friction between the Red Devils and Yoon is related to the competition between SK Telecom and KTF, the second-largest mobile service firm and a staunch supporter of the Red Devils. In 2002, SK Telecom supported the cheering team and its advertising campaign was considered to be more successful than KTF’s, even though the latter was an official supporter of the 2002 World Cup.


by Park Sung-ha, Lee Kyong-hee

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