Two nations brought together by Germany’s defeat
After losing to Sweden 3-0 on Thursday, Mexico’s only chance of going through to the second round was if Korea defeated Germany - an upset so improbable that Mexico’s fate seemed sealed.
Although the two games were played simultaneously, it wasn’t until stoppage time that Korea took the lead against Germany. Some 450 miles away in Ekaterinburg, Mexico fans, convinced that their World Cup campaign had just come to an end, received the unexpected news that Korea had scored, and then scored again.
The outpour of gratitude from Mexicans to Korea was immediate.
In Mexico City, hundreds of football fans swarmed the Korean Embassy after the final whistle in Russia.
“We are all Koreans,” some shouted while waving the Korean flag. Others picked up Korean Embassy officials on their shoulders, including the consul general, who was filmed by jubilant fans drinking tequila alongside Ambassador Kim Sang-il.
The Kia Motors factory in Monterrey received congratulatory beer and snacks from Heineken and Pepsi’s local offices. The Korean car manufacturer had stopped operations for two hours in the Mexican factory to allow workers to watch the game, which began at 9 a.m. local time.
Some restaurants even introduced new menu items in honor of the Korean football stars. One eatery in Mexico City launched two new mains named after national team coach Shin Tae-yong and striker Son Heung-min.
Nikkori Sushi, a local Japanese franchise, advertised on its social media that it will offer all Korean customers and local Kia, Hyundai Motor and LG employees free entrees.
Aeromexico, Mexico’s flag carrier and the country’s largest airline, began offering discounted flights from Mexico to Korea.
“We love you Korea!” its Twitter post read. “Our flights from Mexico to Korea are 20 percent off.”
Online shopping platform Amazon’s Mexican site put over one hundred Korean products on sale. The products, marked down by around 10 to 30 percent, include electronics like Samsung Galaxy S9 phones and Etude House face masks.
Cinepolis Klic, a popular movie rental site in Mexico, also began offering Korean movies for as low as 25 pesos ($1.25) to celebrate the win.
Korean businesses in Mexico also tried to take advantage of the favorable local sentiment to improve sales. Shortly after the game, Samsung Mexico uploaded a tweet that read, “If you are thinking of changing your mobile phone soon, Samsung is Korean.” The comment was followed by the hashtag #RegresemosElFavor, which is Spanish for “let’s return the favor.”
LG also tried to cash in on Mexican goodwill by advertising new products like the G7 ThinQ and OLED TV on social media following the match along with captions about Korea’s win.
Mexican politicians have been vocal in expressing their thanks to their Korean counterparts. Carlos de Icaza, Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, called Korean Ambassador Kim Sang-il in recognition of Korea’s role in helping Mexico progress to the next round.
According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, Jose Antonio Gonzales Ayana, Mexico’s secretary of finance and public credit, also called Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon to express his thanks. He is said to have offered to treat Kim to a meal when they meet in Buenos Aires next month for a Finance Ministers’ meeting in advance of the upcoming Group of 20 meeting in Argentina.
BY KIM EUN-JIN, YONHAP [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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