Friday, June 16, 2006

World Cup Red Devil's

For those of you out there living on another planet or America the soccer World Cup is going on right now in Germany and South Korea is OBSESSED. I'm seeing red. Everywhere. The first Korea match was on Tuesday night against Togo. All week my students have been all geared out in their red shirts, bandannas, and devil horns in support of their team. (Supporters for the Korean team have been given the nickname 'Red Devils'.)

The first game I watched was on Monday night, Australia vs. Japan. I watched the game at Beer Valley while sharing a pitcher of beer with some co-workers. The Koreans in the bar went wild with cheers every time Australia scored. I know zilch about soccer, but I think the Australian coach used to be a coach for Korea...? Anyways, let's hope this is where the cheers where originating from and they weren't just "beat Japan" cheers, but I'm not convinced.

On Tuesday in class my students were all excited about staying up late to watch Korea's first match against Togo. In my afternoon class we played the telephone game (or Chinese whispers) and I started it out by whispering to the first kid, "Togo is the best soccer team in the world!" Wow, they really didn't like that very much! You should have seen the fantastic reaction I got! I didn't feel too bad about picking on their team after what they told me at the beginning of class...

Timmy had been absent for the last two classes and I asked the class if he was sick or if they knew where he was. Dorothy dramatically started telling me, "Timmy, ummm, he was... bicycle. Riding. Street, ummm... Car... CRASH!!" With the hand motions to go with it.

"Timmy die," The class told me.

I ran out to the desk teacher and asked her if Timmy had been run over by a car and killed. Her eyes got wide and she ran into the class and inquired. After 30 seconds of explanation by the students, the desk teacher railed into them and then turned to me and said, "Liars," before slamming the door, disturbed by the deceitful little midgets. As was I.

They became "Togo boys and girls" for the rest of class. They didn't like that very much. Maybe they won't lie about their classmates getting RUN OVER anymore now.

That night I stayed home and watched the game from my room. (I know, I know. I'll watch the next one at a more festive location.) The commentary was in Korean and I got bored before the first half was even over so I turned the volume down and read with the TV on. It turned out to be perfect this way: Every time Korea was close to scoring, I could hear the cheers on the street get progressively louder and know to look in time to see the highlights of the game. You should have heard the commotion from the street when Korea scored! Cheers, screams, clapping, horns honking, and no doubt soju glasses clinking behind it all. I put the TV on mute so I could hear the jubilation live. It was great. So Korea won and all the Koreans were delighted and honked their horns in tune to a soccer cheer all night long as they drove down the street right outside my window.