If you’re not good at soccer, you can still dance for your teamIn June 2002, Korea might have been the co-host of the FIFA 2002 World Cup, but it was creating a show of its own, broadcasting red human waves around the world. Millions of Korean supporters flowed into the streets in front of Seoul City Hall Plaza, Gwanghwamun and Daehangno, central Seoul. Nearly all wore red shirts, chanted Daehanminguk (Republic of Korea), slapped hands in unison and watched the matches on massive outdoor television screens.
Four years later, Koreans still remember that sweet but brief time when their fractious nation united to support its national soccer team. Many of those same fans are expected to turn City Hall Plaza red again during the 2006 World Cup, even though the time difference means most of the matches will start very late here. More enthusiastic, and richer, fans are planning to cheer on the Korean squad on the scene in Germany.
About 400 members of the Red Devils, the populous fan club that led the cheering in 2002, are going to Germany. They will organize their cheering efforts with Koryo Work, a group of young Germans born to Korean emigrants.
“Koryo Work has helped us a lot in gathering local information, not only in interpreting and translating. They were also a big help in designing our cheering gear, because we need to make it fit the size of the stadiums. Koryo Work members have answered our questions,” said Kim Jeong-hyeon, one of the Red Devils.
Another supporters’ group, Red Rooster, is planning several events in Korea. Red Rooster had a rather odd start; it was formed by members of a chicken-lover’s group that also thinks soccer is finger-licking good. (They sent gifts of chicken to Park Ji-sung, one of Korea’s 2002 World Cup stars, after learning that he likes the meat.) The group is planning several events on June 19, when Korea plays France; Les Bleus’ emblem is also a rooster, though fortunately a blue one.
Well-organized fans now also have a semi-official set of moves: The “kkokjijeom dance.” The word means “vertex,” and the dance moves are performed by a group leader and a team arrayed in a triangle behind him. It was invented by a popular actor here, Kim Soo-ro, who has performed it a few times on television. This being Korea, the dance has its own organization, “World Cup 06 Kim Soo-ro Kkokjijeom Dance.” Fans can learn the dance from the master online so that they can show off their talents in the streets when it matters.
Daum Communications recently ran ads on television featuring Kim Soo-ro and his dance, and they will also sponsor a rally-cum-dance on May 26, the day of a friendly match between the Korean squad and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s team. The company and Korean fans hope to challenge the Guinness Book of Records mark for the largest number of participants in a group dance. Online, the triangle dancers say that if they can amass more than 14,000 dancers, they will be able to wipe an American group out of the Guinness book.
Want to aid that effort? Be at the south park of Seoul World Cup Stadium at 6 p.m. that day.
by Park Sung-ha