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The 2006 World Cup has arrived, bringing with it the equally amusing sights of delirious Korean fans and a phalanx of American “K-bloggers” struggling manfully to pretend that they a) know and b) care about “soccer.”
Kushibo at “Monster’s Island” (http://kushibo.blogspot.com/), however, is under no such illusions, asking, “The World Cup. That’s this month, right?” Yet it is more than just a general indifference to the sport that puts Kushibo off. “I eschewed discussion of the World Cup because the K-blogosphere is often just so predictably down on the Korean team that it has sapped and/or zapped whatever fun there was in watching the game.”
To hear many bloggers tell it, the problem with the team, as with so much else in Korea, is a surfeit of crude nationalism. Dave the Wave at “being korean”(http://calmlyhungover. blogspot.com/), for instance, is miffed at Korea’s “total lack of respect for Togo in the runup to the match,” and still can’t forgive the Korean team’s Apollo Anton Ohno-baiting goal celebration in the 2002 World Cup. “All respect for [Korea’s team] was mostly trashed at this spectacle,” he writes.
Nor do the fans escape bloggers’ wrath. “In the latest World Cub saga,” snorts James J. Na at “The Korea Liberator” (http://www.korealiberator.org/), “the well-fed, well-clothed ‘Taeguk Warriors’ came back from behind to beat the team from Togo, a West African nation smaller than West Virginia where the men live an average of only 55 years, and [which] boasts less than 1/10th the GDP per capita of South Korea. And the nation is in ecstasy.” Scott at “The Party Pooper” (http://partypooper.blogs.com/partypooper/), also waxes cynical about the football frenzy. “Korea could be invaded from the North and the Korean news will still lead off with 10 different shots of each of the two Korean goals (and then come back and show them 10 more times in the sports segment).”
Writing at “The Lost Nomad” (http://www. lostnomad.org/), Gar bemoans the apparent decline of the civic spirit that kept the streets largely free of litter during mass celebrations in 2002. This time, he writes, “the picture when the sun came up at these locations told another story: Heaps of garbage lay everywhere. There seems to be a dichotomy when it comes to Korean pride. National pride is at a fervor [sic] pitch when it comes to cheering for the team, no matter what the venue, but where is that same pride when it comes to one’s own backyard? Is it because Korea isn’t ‘acting’ as host on the world stage this time so it’s business as usual?”
But should you feel yourself drowning beneath the deluge of blogosphere gripes, there are a few spots where you can come up for air. In a post entitled “Why you should be a Red,” Scott at “The Iceberg” (http://www.icebergkorea.com/) writes, “A lot of people complain about the overzealousness of Korean fans during the World Cup. But my advice during the World Cup is: Embrace the mood. Plunge headfirst into the River of Red and let the current take you where it may. It’s quite a fun experience.”

To anyone reasonably familiar with Korea, the ubiquitous norebang, or singing rooms, are as Korean as kimchi, hanbok or making a “v” sign in front of camera. Yet as Antti at “Hanjungui Karuch’im” (http://hunjang. blogspot.com/) points out, these sanctums of sing-along only arrived here from Japan in the early ‘90s. “Norebang was first mentioned in the national press in 1991 as part of government policies to encourage healthy-minded entertainment establishments that conformed to the national sentiments and social realities instead of extravagant and irrational spending and leisure.” But by 1992, the government was apparently having second thoughts; an “article conveys worries of excessive copying of Japanese things, and contrary to the wishes of the authorities, harmful influences on the youth.”

by Niels Footman
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