Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Soccer Dad: Seeing Red

A quick follow up on the last post. I pulled up to the Galleria around 5:40am and the parking lot was smashed! I could hear the noise going on inside from 100 yards. The viewing party had been moved from the deli to an abandoned grocery store in the shopping center, empty of everything except a dividing wall. Organizers set up two projection units in front of the walls and broadcast the Korean feed of the game. I'd venture that around 300-400 people were up in there. They were banging on Korean drums and percussion, a sound system blasted accelerated, amplified K-pop, and a few very enthusiastic cheerleaders rocked the mic, exhorting the gathered with “Dae Han Min Kuk” (“Korea”) and “Pilseung Korea!” (“Korea must win!” roughly translated). An opportunistic high tech company gave away stacks of Red Devils shirts and bang sticks. A Todai rep was giving away 2-for-1 coupons. It was off the hook.

Togo scored a nice goal and went into halftime with a lead. But when Korea came back from 0-1 to equalize on Chun-Soo Lee’s free kick, the place went berzerk. And when they went ahead on Ahn Jung-Hwan’s score—the permed hero of the 2002 cup who did the speed skating routine when he scored against the USA—I thought my ears would bleed.

What blew me away also was the diversity in age. There were moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and a few infants—all wearing their Red Devil garb. I spoke with the chief cheerleader and a few younger cats after the game to get their take on this, like why does it take a sports event like the World Cup for first and second generation Koreans to unite? Nobody knew the answer; they just knew it was a profound moment to get everyone together, cheer on their boys and have a good time.

The organizers are predicting 2000 people for the next Korea game vs. France on Sunday. Yay Area Red Devil fans—get there at 11am if you want to experience World Cup madness. And bring your imos and halmonis.

No comments: