Seoul explodes with joy
Traditional drums pounded victory rhythms, party poppers exploded and loud rock music blared from speakers amid a sea of red shirts in central Seoul's main intersection, where an estimated 150,000 fans watched the match on four large outdoor television screens.
"Our team fought so well and barely made mistakes," said Park Hyun-ki, 21 as he waved South Korea's national flag. "Now our goal is not the final 16 but the final four."
As confetti poured from office buildings, hundreds of police manning barricades struggled to keep traffic flowing on central Seoul's main street under the crush of jubilant fans spilling off sidewalks for blocks.
"The mood around here is amazing. Photos can't really describe this, you have to be here, you have to feel the beat," said Teemu Peltoniemi, a Finnish business student in Seoul.
"Hiddink saved Korea!" said Kwon Young-sick, a high school student, referring to Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who rebuilt South Korea's fortunes over the past, often stormy, year.
Young South Koreans, including members of the "Red Devils" fan club, had shown up to claim a place as early as six hours before the match in Pusan, far away on the south-eastern tip of the Korean peninsula.
Many of the early arrivals cheered Belgium and booed rival and co-hosts Japan during their earlier 2-2 draw in Saitama.
"Our players were so gorgeous," said Park Joon-young, a 17-year-old high school student.
"It was so exciting, that no one could stay calm during the match," he said over chorus of thousands singing South Korea's national anthem at the top of their lungs.
Local television said one million people watched the game on large outdoor screens across the country of 48 million.
Many fans were quick to remind reporters that the South Korean victory was the first win for Asia in this tournament -- Asia's first World Cup -- after Saudi Arabia and China were crushed and Japan drew.
Yang Hye-ran, a 20-year-old college student, said she had predicted the victory and score.
"I told everyone that we would win by two to zero," she said.
"The next matches, with the U.S. and others, we will win every match, every match, every match! We will reach the final!" she said.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.