Friday, June 21, 2002

The WORLD CUP MEGA FUN TOUR encompassing three World Cup cities and two games could not be contained, could not be held back…World Cup is bigger than all of us and its force cannot be denied. It became the WORLD CUP MEGA-MEGA FUN TOUR encompassing four World Cup cities and four games!!! It would have included a fifth city as I planned to take a trip to Suwon but unfortunately I got a bout of laziness and didn’t make it.

First was a trip to Pusan, sorry Busan, to catch France and Uruguay. Then up to Daegu to see South Africa beat Slovenia, though the Slovenians didn’t seem to let the loss deter them from having an ACE night on the town that evening. Back in Seoul, I managed to get a ticket to the Turkey and China match, though it was an easy win for the dominant Turkish team. That evening I spent time at the World Cup Park adjacent to the stadium which is really very nice. Free performances all afternoon is cool!!!

The next highlight to the tour came on the day of Korea and Portugal when my new bestest buddy in the whole wide world called to say he had a ticket to the game and couldn’t make it….that ticket was MINE BABY MINE!!! I got the ticket, waved it in the faces of my Korean work colleagues and ran out of work at light speed laughing all the way to Incheon. That was a cool match, and the atmosphere was electric. What a win! Victory Korea!!!

The next big event in the WORLD CUP MEGA-MEGA FUN TOUR came with Korea's match against Italy. Watched the game in *relative* quiet at a bar with a big screen set up. The staff got out the traditional drums to lead us in the cheers and of course it all went WILD when Korea scored the equaliser to take the game into extra time. Everyone hugging everyone else and screams to shake the building….and then the “golden goal”…..the place went CRAZY!! Of course that was just signal to start the party…TO CHONG-RO and not a moment to lose!

Chong-ro was PUMPING! This crowd was way bigger than when they played Poland. We danced and shouted and ran in front of Yonhap and KBS news cameras not to mention every one other Joe with a camera, screaming and cheering. We got up on the subway vents and waved the Korean flag and later on we met up with some Saemulnori drummers and joined the impromptu traditional dance stage set up outside the Envus building. It was absolutely incredible in a way that I cannot describe in words. Empty taxis were not easy to find though and we only managed to crawl back to my place at four am.

But of course everything has a downside…I’ve lost my voice. D’oh! And tomorrow when Korea plays Spain I’ve been told to come to work after the game!!! This Saturday is our one day in the month off and the big game is on and they want me to come to work!? That’s cruel.

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"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui