Korean Beacon

Does the South Korean Soccer Team Matter?

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Confessions

Category: Culture, Sports

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korean-soccer-girlFriday was the announcement of the drawings for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  South Korea is in Group B and they will play against perennial powerhouse Argentina, Nigeria and past Euro champs Greece.  However, does the South Korean soccer team really matter to Korean-Americans?  Who would they root for: the U.S. or South Korea?  We know they’re not rooting for North Korea, who happened to make the World Cup as well.  This is an opinion and there is no empirical evidence of this, but I would suggest that the Korean-Americans who end up watching the World Cup games will have a stronger interest in the performance of the South Korean team than the U.S. team.  Though anecdotal, I take you back to 2002 when South Korea progressed to the semi-finals, its greatest performance ever in a World Cup.  It not only captivated the Korean peninsula with masses of South Koreans watching games on massive TVs in public venues, but you could also see the excitement and support here in the U.S.  Our parents were talking to us about it and not about school or marriage.  They would share how proud they were of the South Korean team doing so well.  Many of us are immigrants to the U.S. and the World Cup created a tangible connection to our Korean heritage.  I personally remember staying up till the wee hours of the morning to watch the games at a Korean restaurant in Ktown New York.  When the South Korean team won a game, West 32nd street would get flooded with people (at 5AM!) cheering.  That was a cool scene and a moment to remember.   In almost six months, the most popular game on earth will stage its biggest event and I hope you all can root for both South Korea and the U.S.  I paraphrase a famed Korean senator by saying that South Korea is our mother and America is our father.  We can have our cake and enjoy it to so have fun rooting for both South Korea and the U.S. when the World Cup arrives in June.

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