South Korea salutes World Cup heroesPosted: Friday June 14, 2002 10:45 AM
At the main intersection of central Seoul, delirious crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands watched South Korea beat Portugal 1-0 on giant television screens and then linked arms in giant circles and spun round while others danced the conga.
One car's roof caved in from the weight of dancing young fans, who sang the Red Devil victory chant "Oh! Pilsung Korea," pop songs and their national anthem.
The Red Devils, the South Korean supporters' club, mobilized hundreds of thousands of fans both at stadiums and in front of the giant outdoor television screens.
"It was so exciting. Our players were so cool," said Oh Yoon-young, an 18-year-old high school student and Red Devil.
"We will stay here until dawn. We are not going home," he said as a brass quartet played Beethoven's Ode to Joy and even a local homeless man strutted around waving a South Korean flag.
During the match, they cheered Poland's goals against the United States in Taejon almost as loudly as they did Park Ji-sung's left-foot goal which beat a nine-man Portuguese side.
"We've made the final 16," flashed local television after Park's goal to the roaring approval of a sea of red T-shirts stretching in every direction in the heart of Seoul.
One million South Koreans were expected to have watched the group D match on giant screens across the country.
Hiddink deified, Asia hailed
South Korea's 1-0 win meant it went through as group winner ahead of the U.S. which lost 3-1 to Poland. Earlier in the day fellow Cup host Japan also went through to the last 16.
"Hiddink is a legend," Moon Ji-hwan, a 20-year-old student, said of South Korea's Dutch coach, Guus Hiddink.
"We will advance to the final 8," he said.
South Korea faces Italy on June 18 in Taejon.
"We will beat out Italy too. And we will make it through to final four because I believe in Hiddink."
South Koreans also shared in the joy of Japan, rival and World Cup co-host, which also won its group Friday.
"As a fellow Asian, it makes me happy to see Japan advancing to the final 16," said Lee Lee-seul, a 16-year-old student.
Park Hye-min, a 20-year-old college student, said: "I'm glad they made it to final 16. It will make the tournament more fun."
"Korea number one! Hiddink number one! Asia number one!" said Park Young-sil, a high school student from Seoul.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.