STREET CHEERING : A learning experience to witness Korea’s never surrender spirit!
The World Cup is one of the biggest annual sporting events that Koreans look forward to. As a football fan, I was lucky to witness not only how good Korea plays, but also how Koreans are united by one sport.
Last June 18, was the first match of South Korea against Sweden in Group F. Daegu City organized a street cheering and live streaming of the game at the Samsung Lions Park. The street cheering was led by the Red Devils – the official supporters of the Taeguk Warriors, South Korean National Football Team, which started in 2002 when South Korea made it to the semi-finals of World Cup. Since then, the Red Devils were recognized by Koreans, football fans and not, and became famous instantly. Before the game started at 9pm, Daegukins gathered together as supporters for their football team and this is where the street cheering all began.
Korean supporters use different props for cheering such as face paints, wigs, flags, balloons, LED headbands and bracelets, and clappers. At the entrance of the stadium, there are vendors who are selling these things starting at KRW3,000.
I arrived at the stadium a few hours before the game started and there were already a lot of Koreans who waited patiently before the kick-off. You can really see everyone - children who were brought by their proud parents, teens who just finished their last class at school, adults who just finished their work and the grandparents who wants to see another history in the making. - it’s like a family reunited to support their country! Almost everyone was wearing their red devil LED headbands and red t-shirts with a caption of 즐겨로 대한민국: Enjoy Korea, We are Reds! They were very excited to cheer for their country. As a follower of the World Cup, I was so happy to see that kind of hype.
An hour before the game, a group of people went up the stage and started beating the drums which signaled all the supporters to chant “대한민국!” (Dae-Han-Min-Gook!) which means Republic of Korea and clapped their hands or their red balloons five times together
The first picture is where the supporters carried the flag of South Korea (태극기) while their national anthem was sung before the match begins and the second picture is where the supporters raised the banners where the word Dae Han Min Gook (대한민국) was spelled out.
When the Taeguk Warriors started appearing in the big screen, the supporters started shouting for the names of their favorite players and were very enthusiastic to see that their country is playing for the World Cup this year.
Before the match began, it usually opens with both teams singing to their national anthems. At the stadium, Koreans sang along to the 애국가(Aegukga). The kick-off started exactly at 21:00 in South Korea while 15:00 in Russia. At the beginning of the match, Red Devils started singing Arirang to boost more energy to the crowd. Everyone was singing and dancing to the tune and you can see all the smiles painted to their face.
I have seen the love and support of the Red Devils for the Taeguk Warriors during the entire match. Even though they were not physically present at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Russia, it seems like they have taken us there as they cheer their hearts out. If one of the Taeguk Warriors gets hurt, they also feel their pain.
Every attempt of the Taeguk Warriors gave hope and spark to their supporters. At that very moment, I felt that for once in my life, I am a Korean. I shared with them the thrill, excitement, and happiness. Every time the ball goes up to the opponent’s side, it gave us the chills and every time the ball goes down to the supporter’s side, it gave us the adrenaline rush. It’s amazing how one sport can unite everyone despite our differences. We may all have different faces but we all have one heart.
South Korea was one of the strongest teams in Asia but at the same time, it was no.57 in the FIFA Men’s Ranking which made them the underdogs in every match in Group F. Despite losing on their first game, Taeguk Warriors showed us how to fight a good fight. Until the last minute, they did not give up. They did not show that they are losing hope and never surrendered until the end.
All in all, my first street cheering was a great experience! It will be a good memory and who knows, it might become my tradition to join the Korean supporters doing their big red waves every year. I hope that foreigners, not only in Daegu, but all over Korea, will be able to witness this one of a kind street cheering in South Korea. And to our hardworking, Taeguk Warriors, you made us all proud!
Video by Ma. Lilia Pedellume
And if you want to follow Taeguk Warrior’s journey in this year’s World Cup, here’s the official schedule of their matches for 2018 FIFA World Cup:
Monday, 18 June
South Korea 21:00 Sweden
Sunday, 24 June
South Korea 00:00 Mexico
Wednesday, 27 June
South Korea 23:00 Germany