July 01, 2010

...and you and i will be singing it (Dae-Han min gook)... just like a wavin flag (pt. IV)

In an effort to circumvent the ‘sitting’ that occurred during Korea’s last group match. It was decided that we should arrive earlier to their game last Saturday. I supported this idea. The weather was not looking up, in fact the weather was supposed to be similar to my first game at city hall, rainy and crappy. This time I came more prepared. Instead of having an umbrella that the tiny Korean’s would have to look through, I bought a poncho. I thought it was a great idea..

I’d like to think that my great ideas didn’t stop there. I also bought a Korean flag to wear as a cape. I was able to achieve several things with this cape. First, I was wearing white, not red, so I was able to support Korea better. Second, I was able to relive some of my childhood memories. I remember running around the front lawn at my first house back in Ontario with towels tied around my neck. I would run and dive pretending to be superman, or some other superhero. I’d say I was mostly superman, but sometimes my mom didn’t give me a blue towel (I really hated the days with the pink towel).

Anywho, we arrived at city hall quite early. We were sitting to start (acceptable I thought, it was like 4 hours before kickoff) then closer to game time more and more people joined in, and sat. I was starting to get scared that people would attempt to sit their way through the game. About an hour before the game started it started to rain. These were giant raindrops! They were the kind of raindrops that got people on their feet! People were standing as we got pelted with rain. I couldn’t have been more happy. I had my poncho, I was content.

Rain was still steadily falling as the game started, and my worst fear was realized. People started to sit. The crowd was falling down like dominoes, whole sections of the crowd slipped onto the soggy wet ground. Fletcher and I watched in horror as the void crept towards us. We decided not to sit, no matter what, we would not sit.

Soon enough, all the people around us had their asses firmly planted on the marshy ground. I was pretty pissed, and they were pissed at me. I was getting jabbed behind the knees, and people were tugging at my poncho. I could hear people yelling at me to sit down (some instructions yelled in Korean, some in English, some just swear words). I remained steadfast, and watched the game, standing. Fletcher had a Korean friend with her that was quite nervous, and he looked the part. He wanted to sit; he wanted to join the rest of the Koreans in the mud. We told him not to give in. We had created a small island of rebels. Fletcher and I were the glue keeping that island afloat.

Even if I had wanted to sit, I was unable to. I had some Koreans sitting on my feet in front of me, and Koreans right against my knees behind me. I realize I’m skinny but there was NO way I would have been able to squeeze into that spot. I think I adopted that excuse to reassure me in my fight to stand up.

During the second half reinforcements arrived. Our friend Gillian decided to join us. She didn’t believe that we had stood for the whole first half (oh the Koreans were behind 1-0 after the first half, in case you were wondering about soccer). Gillian stood with us for the second half, she was yelling at people to keep with us and to stand. Our island was down to five, we were the only ones standing in the giant section. There were numerous pictures taken of us. I would really love to see some of them. I’m sure they are hilarious.

The Koreans made one hell of a game of it. They eventually fell 2-1 to Uruguay, but fought hard. We were however, able to celebrate one last goal. People jumped and hugged, and jumped and screamed before they returned to their wet seats. It was a moment where it didn’t matter if you were Korean or weiguk, standing or sitting, you would hug or be hugged, you would jump and perhaps scream.

You may think that I’m a horrible person for blocking the view of some Koreans. You might be right, I have no true rebuttal. Although I can say it was one moment in Korea where I refused to allow their cultural norms to supersede my own. I feel that games that big, and with that much on the line, you owe it to the team to stand and cheer. I know they can’t hear you, nor will it have any influence on the end result, but where is your national pride? I wasn’t going to allow my adopted pride to sit in the mud while it rained.

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