[EDITORIALS]Commercial cheerKorea was covered with red waves at the moment of its World Cup 2006 match with Togo. It was reported that about 2.5 million fans rushed to the sites for outdoor cheering across the nation, such as Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall and the Sangam World Cup Stadium in northern Seoul. To such support and encouragement from Koreans, the Korean team responded with a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win. The cheering fever was no less hot than that during the 2002 World Cup Korea-Japan.
But there was a clear difference in street cheering from that of the 2002 World Cup. The refined cheering culture has disappeared. Four years ago, millions of citizens who crowded on the streets without any pre-arrangements picked up their waste themselves after watching the matches, although nobody forced them to do so. Accordingly, foreign media praised our citizens highly for their polished manners that were totally different from those of European hooligans.
But, on Tuesday night when the match between Korea and Togo was finished, the streets where the cheering squads crowded turned into a huge garbage dump. After the people left, there were food scraps, bottles, cans and fan paraphernalia here and there. There were even many national flags abandoned. And it was seen here and there that people relieved themselves on the streets. Merchants rushed to the outdoor sites beginning in early morning, causing disorder. To make a long story short, the streets were a mess.
The cheering culture has changed mainly because commercialism contaminated the street parties. When the Seoul city government made a contract with a certain company for the exclusive right to manage and lead cheering at Seoul Plaza, the purity of the event was damaged. Accordingly, instead of the voluntary roars of “Dae Han Min Guk,” noisy shows arranged by businesses and broadcasters were the fare. The huge advertising boards that covered buildings near Seoul Plaza also made people frown. Amid such disorder and noise pollution, good spirit vanished.
The commercialism of companies and broadcasters, which wanted to tap into Koreans’ pure enthusiasm, instead drove it away. The Red Devils, the official soccer supporters’ club, was criticized for its commercialization and recently said it would no longer accept support from companies.
Companies and broadcasters also should return the leadership of street cheering to the citizens.