Korea Republic street cheering ends "dark history"

"They wore red T-shirts and headbands. Some had their faces painted. They waved national flags, chanting 'Daehanminkuk' (Republic of Korea) to a distinct rhythm of drumbeats. The mood was one of uninhibited excitement. Such scenes, in support of Korea's World Cup matches in Germany, were witnessed at street cheering events at Seoul Plaza and other rally points across the nation," Shin Yong-bae reported for the Korea Herald.

However Seoul National University Professor Song Ho-keun believes there is more to the Korean fans' mass cheering. "(Foreign news media) may interpret the spectacle to indicate Korea's expression to join the ranks of advanced countries," he said in his column that ran in the JoongAng Ilbo. But he said the cheering reflects the Korean people's "thirst for a festive rally" in public plazas that had been long marred by ideological battles. "The cheering rallies demand to end Korea's 'dark history,' which was characterized by division and exclusion," the sociologist said.

Myongji University Professor Kim Jung-un used socio-psychology to attach much significance to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. "Our community is accustomed to demanding noble values like freedom and democracy. But the 2002 cheering events brought about happiness and fun," he said in a debate forum organized by the Chosun Ilbo.