Hey guys, I guess it's been awhile. I wish I could give a better excuse for my long absence for this blog but I guess a couple of months of being in Korean has turned it from a raucous adventure into a kind of, well, routine that seems mundane and not worthy of record. I occasionally get some perspective on my days and realize that strange things happen to me all the time, like receiving a brick-sized block of rice "cake" in a gold bag because one of my co-workers babies had their special 100th-day celebration, but they don't occur to me that way anymore.
Last weekend though I had a very special Korean experience that I thought I should share with all of you. Some other Taebaek teachers and I visited Seoul, where we hoped to exchange the bitter mountain cold for a slightly less face-biting chilliness. On Saturday I had the opportunity to go with a college friend to a national soccer game. FC Seoul vs. The Yellowz (srsly).
Now, I have not been to a ton of professional sporting events in my life but from what I remember, they did not usually involve EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the stadium wearing their team colors. Or waving giant flags with Conan the Barbarian on them. Or performing co-ordinated dances. OR FIREWORKS. The last part was truly startling because they fired them off from the bottom of the stands at the kick-off and scared the living crap out of me. I might have screamed, I'm not sure. The shock has clearly damaged my memory. Anyway, they then proceeded to do the same thing for every goal scored by FC Seoul, which thankfully for my life-expectancy (if not for FC Seoul fans) was only one.
While most American sports games like to rev up their audience with splashes of rock music, marching band snippets or ritualized chants Korean sports fans warm their motors with tunes like "If Your Happy and You Know It" and "When The Saints Come Marching In" rewritten with Korean lyrics. Such songs, which never really ended but only seemed to flow smoothly into other, equally cheerful numbers, were generally accompanied by rhythmic handclapping, jumping up and down (like 20,000 teenage girls at a Backstreet Boys concert) and tooting little hand-held horns.
The game itself wasn't really up to the level of the fandom, but there were some exciting moments. Unfortunately FC Seoul lost in a final shoot-out to the Yellowz, which reduced the stands to an echoing silence, aside from some unoteworthy signs of celebration from the tiny Yellowz cheering section.
All-in-all, an excellent experience. I will have to say though, as a final aside, that I don't think fried fish skin and rice cake in spicy broth will ever replace the special place foot-long hot dogs and cotton candy holds in my heart.