[Letters] Lessons from 2002 World CupAfter the 2002 Korea and Japan World Cup, Korea got a lot of benefits in three fields: social, cultural, economic and soccer itself.
Korea earned several benefits in social and cultural areas. First, the 2002 World Cup gave Koreans confidence. Everyone in Korea thought, “We can do it.” This is very huge advantage from the World Cup. Second, Korean people became better citizens and showed their high-quality citizenship to the world. For example, after each game was over, they voluntarily cleaned up the stadium, road and wherever it’s dirty. Last, the now-famous “Red Devil” song was popular with not only spectators in the stadium but also all the people on the outside. Those could be regarded as obvious advantages in the cultural and social perspectives that we reaped during and after the world fiesta.
I would also like to talk about economic benefits.
The World Cup also has an enormously positive effect as befits its great reputation. The whole world focuses on the fiscal impact as many soccer fans from the world visited host countries to watch soccer games. In 2002, when Korea co-hosted the World Cup with Japan, many tourists visited Korea. Not only the host country but also guest countries have received economic benefits. For example, many people bought brand new, high-priced television sets before the World Cup season started because they wanted to watch the wonderful games on a bigger TV.
The World Cup also helped improve the performance of Korean soccer players themselves, as many young players of the Korean team moved abroad, especially to Europe, where soccer teams are better than in Korea. This had very beneficial effects on Korea and Korean soccer for several reasons.
First of all, the young players became private diplomatic officers. They were always trying to work hard and showed Europeans Korean people’s devotion to the sport, which naturally led to an improvement of Korea’s national value. Second, competitions between media has also emerged. Drafted to foreign teams, Korean soccer players created a need for European soccer broadcasts here. So the huge broadcasters, SBS and MBC, bought the broadcasting rights and it helped children and young players to improve their skills and widen their knowledge of the sport. In the long term, this might be a chance to develop the country’s soccer performance. Last is that successful players, especially Park Ki-sung, Lee Young-pyo and Lee Chung-yong, learned advanced techniques, skills and confidence to compete with outstanding European and African players. It helped new generations to have better results in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup competitions than in 2002.
So far, I looked at the benefits of the 2002 World Cup. But it wasn’t always a successful event. We definitely have faced challenges that we had to overcome.
First, we should build more hotels and convenience facilities for foreigners to host the big games in the future. The 2002 World Cup was only a start for Korea to have a mature status in the international arena. The G-20 Summit is supposed to be held in Korea. Accommodating heads of state, high-ranking government officials and business people from all over the world for the event is another challenge.
In 2002, we were famous for our civic pride. But look around now. Our streets are full of waste and trash. We can care about this problem if we revive the spirit and mindset which we had during the World Cup in 2002.
No doubt the soccer gala was a tremendously successful event. But we think Korean people forget too fast as the World Cup is a sports event which takes place for just a limited period. And Koreans get too excited too quickly, and cool down quickly as well. Koreans should have kept that enthusiasm much longer to embrace extra positive effects from 2002. We should kick away Koreans’ hot temper if we want to remain a strong country, not only in soccer but in other fields in the world.
Kim Min-ho with Yu Ha-na, Song Hyun-ho, Bang Jin-hwan, Song Ji-eun, Rustam Dzen, Ji Chang-keun,
all students at Dongguk University