Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fighting Korea

I have to admit that Ryan and I have never been big soccer fans.  We haven't given much thought or notice to World Cups as they've happened in the past.  This year here in Busan,  however, the event’s hype has been hard to ignore. 

For the last few weeks numerous street vendors with various red (Korea’s color) T-shirts, scarves, devil horns (the team is called Korea Devils) and other memorabilia took over the corners of virtually every busy street.

Last Saturday Korea’s opening game aired at 8:30 pm local time.  On that night we planned to join a pub crawl taking place at Hauendae Beach, which boasted drink specials and big screens showing the World Cup game.

Ryan had a friend in town, and they’d spent the day at Hauendae, where I went to meet them that evening.

At the exact moment I left the subway station to make the four blocks walk to the beach, it started pouring down rain.  In retrospect, the white skirt and suede boots I’d paired with my red shirt were a bad idea.

After searching a five block radius for Ryan's location, I gave up and decided to take cover from the rain, picking up a beer at the convenience store while I waited under an awning.  Shortly after the boys found me, the rain stopped.  Deciding to delay the pub crawl, they wanted to watch the game on the beach, where they’d already staked a claim to a large area of seats atop blankets on the sand.  I agreed, and me made our way to the spot. 

Unfortunately, although the rain had passed, it had left a definite mark on our beach towels, which were quite wet.  I sat on my purse, and craned my neck to see over the many fans that had gathered to see Korea meet Greece on the jumbo-tron.  

Ryan and I were both decked out in red, to support South Korea.  I made sure to also wear some white and blue to support the USA as well! 

Once it got dark, the beach was lit by the rows of red, light-up devil horns to show support for the team.

The crowd was pumped, and each time Korea scored or stopped a goal from the opposing team, booming fireworks exploded in the sky.  There was also a large lit up soccer ball, casting a white glow on the beach.

Once victory was claimed by Korea (2-0), we found the current location of the pub crawl and celebrated the win and a birthday of a friend of Ryan’s friend.

I’d saved the one Red Bull I’ve seen here for the occasion, determined to stay awake to watch the USA play at 3:30 am.

After a few drinks Ryan decided to call it a night, and I went to meet up with some friends at another bar.  After a few games of darts we decided to make our way to another location to watch the USA vs. England match.

Pusan National University area is a hotspot for local young people, and many foreigners live and teach there as well.  We found a small but cozy bar off the main strip, and headed upstairs to view the projected game from a balcony away from some crazy fans.

Two hours later after the 1-1 draw, we opened the door to the outside, and were met with daylight.  I had to wonder, as I have multiple times being here when met with this sight,
“Am I in Vegas?”

South Korea played a game against Argentina last night, which sadly ended in a loss.  The US meets Slovenia for their second game airing tonight at 11:00 pm.

We'll be on a train to Seoul at that time, so may be able to catch the end.  

Although unlikely, how interesting would it be if North and South Korea were to meet in a future game?  Just something to think about...

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