2.5 months in Seoul, South Korea
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
World Cup Fever
In the past week I've noticed a gradual buildup of red... and more red... until everything finally EXPLODED last night.

Huge crowds gathered all around Seoul to watch the Korean team's World Cup game against Togo, a country that was competing for its first time. We went to the district of Gwanghwamun, where multiple giant television screens showed the game from sides of tall buildings, and spectators were either standing or sitting on newspapers.

There were so many Koreans shoving through the crowds that we were flattened. This is nothing like an American crowd. I was practically sitting on peoples' heads at one point, some people were so close that they could have probably gotten married after being in that crowd, and all you could hear was high pitched "aiiiiiii!!!" (from girls whose high-heel-clad feet were being trampled on) and angry yelling from Korean ajusshis (middle to old aged men).

While the game was going on, a random guy would start banging on a drum, a signal for the crowd to start chanting, "Dae han min gook!" (Our great nation!) Watch the video that I took below to see the chant in action...

Every time a Korean player fell, spectators would, of course, collectively groan and mutter to each other.... After Korea scored its first goal--> hugs and a standing ovation!

First goal scored by Lee Chun-Soo ..the dyed hair makes him stand out.

The winning goal? Scored by Ahn Jung-Hwan, the guy on the team who elicited "wooooowwwww"s from females' voices every time he came on the screen:

Even my Korean teacher has a crush on him! She says that she doesn't mind her short curly perm hairstyle as much, since Ahn Jung-Hwan has a similar one (^.^)

We also got into the World Cup spirit and bought red Korea t-shirts for the game! They were selling these all over the place, along with light-up devil horns, temporary taegukgi (Korean flag symbol) tattooes, inflatable "thunder stick" noise makers (did you know these were invented in Korea?), and bandannas.

We didn't buy horns so I drew some on...

There's even a Korea World Cup dance! It's called the kkokjijeum dance and the characters are doing it in the poster below.

and, Baskin Robbins has been selling World Cup ice cream for a while.

The shirt I bought in the subway was too little-I think the 7/8 that I thought was a size number was actually the recommended age of the wearer. With some strategic cutting on the sleeves, sides, and neckline, it fit!

Some people were too cheap to buy a shirt (starting from only $6!) and wore any old red t-shirt:

"English literature"... very patriotic.

Others saved money on apparel for their lower half. You usually see Korean women wearing pretty modest clothing, but the World Cup seems to be an excuse to break out and support Korea by being scantily clad.

The inspiration? Shin Mina, dubbed Miss World Cup by Korea. First discovered wearing a tube top and Korean flag in a cheering crowd at the 2002 World Cup, she became famous and is now a singer/model!

Lol, truly a rags to riches story..

The next morning we had to get up early again for class :( Then in the afternoon we took a trip to Namdaemun market, the biggest traditional market in Korea.

The weather was cold and rainy... monsoon season.
Namdaemun is huge, disorganized, and full of people ~ vendors are yelling out to you to come in and look at their products, people selling food are pretending that you've already bought it (a tactic to get customers), and the whole time motorcycles and cars and going through the same streets that you're walking through!

I bought a blanket... the bed in my room comes with only a lower sheet. The Korean blankets that they sold are thick and also double as floor mats.

Among other things, you can buy clothes, imitation Coach and Gucci purses and wallets, hanboks (traditional Korean dress), keychains, pottery,

live baby eel,

and ginseng!

Ah, well I'm off to catch up on sleep (World Cup game = sleep deprivation). The next game is Korea vs. France, at 4 AM on Monday morning..



posted by Jane @ 8:11 AM  
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Name: Jane
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