Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Korean Football

Tancheon Sports Complex

Yeah, that's right. I am writing about Korean Football (from here on in known as soccer, not to confuse my fellow countrymen). A few weeks back I dragged Garry to a fashion show and have been promising him a soccer or baseball game anytime in return. So off we went. We happened to make it to an important game too, not just a regular season game. We watched the Korean F.A. Cup final. The 2 teams were the Suwon Samsung BlueWings (we rooted for them), against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. It was a bit of a mission to get to the stadum, but worth the trek in the end. We traveled by train, bus and taxi to Tancheon Sports Complex, Seongnam, somewhere in the southeast end of Seoul. The game started at 2pm and we left our house before 10 to make sure we had tickets. We faffed around a little enroute, but in the end didn't really have that much time to kill.

Just before the game was meant to start the skies opened up and it rained cats and dogs. We were mostly covered in our seats so it didn't affect us much but it made the game a litte more fun. The fans were all decked out in rain gear and umbrellas and the skies were amazing. At about 3 in the afternoon, it looked like it was maybe 7 or 8pm the clouds darkened so much. The bright lights in the open stadium actually made it all look like quite the sight (Can you tell I'm not a sports fan? I like the game cause it 'looked pretty' LOL).

Dark skies at 3pm. 

So Koreans in general seem to be a very extreme group of people. Without generalising too badly, when they do something, they do it properly, no holds barred. I could tell you a million examples of this from religion to education to so-called 'leisure'activities like camping and hiking, but I digress. I will stick to the extremism on the soccer field (well, in the stadium anyways). I don't know the first thing about soccer, with the exception of my boyfriends complete and utter obsession with it, BUT these fans were the real deal. Not the hometeams fans, the Suwon fans. They were buck wild crazy. From the moment we got there the fans were buzzing and it DID. NOT. END. Even when Suwon lost. These people were passionate.
Suwon Bluewings Fans

More fans.

Watching the game on screen, while being there live.
So Korean.
First off, the environment was just plain fun. No over priced drinks stands and no rules against bringing in your own food and drinks. People came ready as if headed out for a picnic (all beit a wet one). As I have stated many times before Koreans picnic like its nobody's business, I LOVE it! They toted in snacks, fried chicken, pizza, 6-packs, you name it. The main food shop in the stadium served Mr.Noodles, chip bags, beer and that was pretty much it, and at decent prices to boot. But everyone came prepared (minus us) for the game. Aside from food there was the typical fan paraphanalia. Blue jackets, scarves, jerseys, horns... the full monty. There was also a nice selection of confetti, toiler papering, banners, giganticly oversized flags, and the piece de resistance... a mini drum band. The drums made it. I tell you people were singing and chanting and stomping to the beat from pregame, all the way to the bitter end and beyond. It was actaully exhausting just to listen to, nevermind take part it :) You couldn't help get caught up in all the madness around you, it true team spirit.

The mini drum band.
Toilet papering the stadium.

Perfect weather for an afternoon of soccer.

I would love to say there was a happy ending and all that team spirit and fun ended with a blazing win from the Suwon Bluewings, but alas, it never happened. The opposing team scored a controversial goal and people were pissed. There was a bunch of yelling and cursing and the refs were not to popular on our side of the stadium, but I guess that's how the sport is played. You win some, you lose some. In a really ugly display that almost counteracted all the enthusiasm people showed the whole game, after the crappy call the ref made, people started throwing water bottles and beer cans and other garbage down on the field. I hate stuff like that, it screams 'I am an ignorant asshole' to me. But Garry assured me that soccer fans round the globe get up to a whole lot worse. The saving grace, and I swear it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside thinking back on it, was a lone Korean fan at the very end of the game. Garbage strewn everywhere, bottles, cans, bags... he hopped the fence, bypassed security and started picking up all the garbage. He walked around and picked up every last peice. Did I mention it was still pouring rain? I love how one small action can put to shame some peoples behaviour, while simultaneously redeeming themselves. Whoever that Korea dude was, thanks to him. Job well done.

My most favorite fan, who cleaned up all the mess.

Game Over.

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