Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 31, 2002 - May 31, 2012

Ten years ago this very day, 2002 FIFA World Cup kicked off in the brand new Seoul World Cup Stadium. Defending champions France lost to Senegal 0-1, before drawing 0-0 with Uruguay in Busan, and conceding 0-2 to Denmark in Incheon.

I had tickets for each station of the cross, including ICN and CDG: Les Bleus and I shared the same flight back to France. But I never felt sad, because this excuse for a team didn't deserve to go any further.

Furthermore, there was happiness all around. With that growing red wave about to engulf the whole country.

Frankly, in the years and even in the months ahead of that kick off, I really doubted the event could turn out to be a major popular success. Soccer was by no means the national pastime, and you couldn't feel any fervor build up.
Then, on June 4, South Korea won its opening game against Poland - the country's first victory ever in a World Cup. Massive celebrations followed, each time greater and more impressive. Far beyond victories and qualifications, a complete nation was on the streets, sharing moments of pure happiness for the whole world to see.

Dae-han-min-guk. Korea, united in peace. This side of the DMZ at least.

That was 10 years ago.

Whatever happened to that 2002 spirit?

Seoul Village 2012
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