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‘Red Sea’ on the streets: the Korean-style cheering that stunned the world

South Korea and Japan jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup. It was the first World Cup to be held in Asia and also the first one to be jointly hosted by more than one nation. Brazil won the Cup for a record fifth time that was scripted by their forward Ronaldo.

The tournament also saw South Korea’s extraordinary World Cup adventure as they managed to reach the semi-finals. The host’s dream performance was thoroughly enjoyed and cherished by the citizens who created a special way of cheering their national team that was famously defined as the ‘Korean-style Street Cheering’.

Korea’s colourful army of supporters spectacularly supported their national team from the very first match. It was against Poland that they won by 2-0. But what was more noticeable were the giant banners, drums and orchestrated chanting that made the atmosphere electrifying. That electricity magnified as Korea defeated Portugal in the third match in a dramatic fashion. As Park Ji Sung scored the winner, the chants and cheers increased; the fans adored their heroes profoundly that made every Korean proud of themselves.

Gradually the Koreans chose to unify their cheer with ‘Red’. It is a color of passion, energy, power, and confidence. The Korean supporters painted themselves in red jerseys to throng the stadium as well as the streets. According to estimates, 8,00,000 people flooded the streets for South Korea’s match with Poland, 15,00,000 for the South Korea-U.S. match and 28,00,000 for the South Korea-Portugal game.

Korea was through the round of 16 after their high-voltage Stage 1 performance. The next match was against the European giants Italy. There was screeching and cheering all around. Around 2,000 large screens were set up at approximately 1,800 locations across the whole country. The match had an astonishing 42,00,000 fans on the streets wearing red T-shirts rooting for Korea’s victory. And the team did not disappoint. Till the 87th minute, Italy were ahead by one goal. But destiny was written in some otherway. Seol Ki Hyeon scored the equalizer and Ahn Jung Hwan gave a ‘Golden’ victory to them. The crowd erupted and the world was surprised with the way the ‘Red Devils’ showed the art of cheering.

In the quarter-finals Korea defeated Spain in another dramatic fashion that brought tears to the whole nation. The ‘Red Devils’ played their part; there was constant motivation as 90 minutes ended followed by the extra time. The match was decided in penalty shootout and as Hong Myung shot the winning goal, Korea soared high. The world once again was amazed to see the red wave that washed that part of Asia.

The semi-final saw South Korea’s exit from the competition. They lost to Germany by 1-0. But despite the loss, long after the final whistle, the 70,00,000 proud fanatics continued their festivity- as if the sound of drums and flutes, cheering and celebration would never let their dream die.

About Poulomi Kundu

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