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2014 World Cup : Ahead of the Korea vs Russia game: 홍명보 and 까방권

홍명보 감독 2014 월드컵
자료출처 : 네이버/OSEN

I don’t think that I have come across a more subdued and *given-up already* Korean atmosphere for the World Cup than that of this year’s (at least online, of course, I am sure once the games start properly there will be seas of red t-shirts out in full force). Even scanning the comments that follow the provocatively titled article, “Capello (the manager of the Russian team) says there’s no need to know the Korean players names” the 자포자기한 comments go like “예리하긴..He(Capello)’s very sharp”.. Even the potential fodder to light the fire against the Russians (i.e. figure skating medal controversy at Sochi) doesn’t seem to be enough to stoke any flames. It’s not entirely a bad thing, I think sports nationalism has had its day in most places.

So Korea has a weaker team than usual (or maybe not? The combination of fresh young blood playing in Germany like 손흥민, 구자철 and the mid-gen dragons in the UK like 기성용 and 이청용 should be interesting, but the friendlies leading up to the WC were mainly disappointing) – And without knowing anything about Korean football, it looks like the worries have been mainly over the generation change (the glory days of the Park et al. are over with the retiring of the experienced veterans) and also Hong Myungbo insisting on using the remaining players from the previous generation (e.g.박주영) who might not be so great either in form or ability, by some tenuous loyalty issues -giving rise to a internet slang word 최종 “엔트으리” = 의리 + 엔트리.

Another internet slang word which I was laughing at this morning is 까방권. 까임+방지+권리 the right not to be dissed- it applies to some sportspeople and celebrities (especially those who have served their time at the army) who have somehow achieved a close-to-deity status and an immunity from possible internet lynching by their personality and achievement.

I actually came across it scanning this linked article in the today, and was initially puzzled by it, because it could have been 가방권, the way it was written in Japanese カバン権。 Even when the writer(a third gen zainichi) was trying to explain ”カイム” 가이무, it took me more than a second to realize that he meant “까임” – “까다” – a slang to criticize – kind of like “diss” in English language.

So basically, the Japanese article was saying that Koreans are very down and not very confident going into the World Cup, and the 까방권 – “a right not to be dissed” which used to apply to Hong has all but disappeared when he insisted on including 박주영, despite his lack of match play time/condition.

Hong has generally a good image in Korea and abroad, and his players always swear by his manly charisma and 의리. Let’s see if the Korean team does enough to retain his 까방권.

More South Korean Skaters Poised to Defect

oopsViktor Ahn‘s father has stated that if there is not a serious reform of the Korean Skating Union, more Korean skaters will leave their passports behind and take up competition through other countries. (cite)

Can this really be surprising considering the jealousy, backbiting and bully-tactics reportedly employed by the skating union?

Sounds familiar?

Adam Wilk, Pittsburgh’s new pitcher and the former baseball player for NC Dinos has been in the Korean press for mentioning how terrible his sojourn in Korea has been for the 1 year contract period, now that he is back in the US.
NC Dinos is the new baseball team founded in 2011 with money from the online games company NCSOFT, to fill in one of the several regional/geo-cultural voids in Korea – the Masan/Jinhae/Changwon area. According to the USA Today it is also:

an expansion team in about as remote an outpost as you can find in the Korean Baseball League…in Changwon in extreme southeastern South Korea, about as far as you can get from Seoul.

According to the Sports Daum link, he has already recently dissed Korea in an online article (dated 28-02-2014) of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Triblive :

This spring, Wilk is in camp with the Pirates on a minor league contract. But the left-hander said his time in Korea did nothing to boost his career.
“It was an experience, to say the least,” “For me, it wasn’t a good experience. A lot of (the team’s) promises were very deceitful, an attempt to get us to sign.”
“It was nerve-racking,” Wilk said. “I had a ‘to-go bag’ ready to go in case I needed to ditch the country and escape on a boat to Japan. I tried my best not to think about it because I didn’t want to be worried.”
Wilk said team officials told the Americans they would live in upscale apartments in the Jungang-Dong district, which has plenty of shops and restaurants that cater to foreigners. Instead, Wilk said he was housed in an area several miles away.
“No parks, no restaurants, no anything,” Wilk said. “There was nothing to do. We found out later that the apartments in (Jungang-Dong) were significantly more expensive and the team wanted to cut costs.

He then slagged off the cheering culture (and softball?) in the USA Today Sports article:

“(The players) cheer like it’s college,” Wilks says. They cheer every strike, every ball. It’s just softball style rah-rah. They didn’t like that we didn’t cheer like that. Well, we cheer when good things happen. We don’t cheer when our guy strikes and loses the game with the bases loaded looking at a fastball. But they kind of do, so it gets a bit overwhelming at times. You just adjust to and deal with it.

Misuda women, academics, and sportsmen, and virtually all the English teachers..

I am curious as to why the Korean press seems to be obsessed with semi-celebrity former foreign residents of Korea going back to their home country and badmouthing Korea. Is it masochism of some sort? It doesn’t seem healthy to me, kind of related to why Korea is not a popular destination in the first place.

Korean-made condoms given to Olympic athletes, and other post-Olympic crap

- You’ll be happy to learn that the official condom of this year’s winter games were made by Korean manufacturer Unidus.

Daehanminguk mansei!

Some 100,000 condoms were given out to the 2,800 athletes. And if reports are to be believed, they needed them.

Unidus is a medium-sized company founded in 1973. In addition to condoms, they also make surgical gloves.

- Vlad Putin has awarded Victor Ahn the Order of Lenin Merit to the Fatherland award. He’s reportedly also been given an apartment in Moscow. Just nice to know he won’t be joining the hockey team in Siberia.

- I wonder if Korea’s failure to pass an anti-discrimination law—a failure largely attributed to anti-homosexual Christian groups—will become an issue in the run-up to the PyeongChang games.

- Likewise, I wonder how Olympic snowboarders are going to get around Korea’s strict anti-pot laws.

- Korea might have had a disappointing Olympic games, but it did place first in one category: dead last finishes.

- And in the New Republic, we’ve got, “Yuna Kim Has Not Had Plastic Surgery, and Koreans Love Her For It.” As TheKorean put it, “I was actually wondering why this type of article did not appear sooner. ‘What are two things that I know about Korea? Plastic surgery and Yuna Kim! Let’s write a story about linking the two!’ Morons.”

- That said, Kim Yuna has grown into an insanely lovely young woman.

- Then, there’s this:

- Kim Yu-na and han. OK, although like Choe Sang-hun pointed out, the anger really wasn’t there this time around. It also makes you wonder what cultural element is responsible for the fact that the Americans seemingly can’t have a major sporting event without either the winning or losing fans rioting.

Choe Sang-hun on Korea’s lack of anger this Olympics

The NYT’s Choe Sang-hun points out that despite getting royally screwed in one of the Winter Olympic’s marquee events, there seems to be remarkably little anger this time around, and that this points to a change in the way Koreans view sports and nationalism.

Read the piece on your own—it’s a good one.

I agree that the level of anger was much less than in previous years, but I do wonder how much of that is due to a) Kim Yuna’s own exceedingly classy handling of the situation and b) the country doing the screwing was Russia, ergo, the screwing was, if not expected, than at least not entirely surprising.

The Kim Yuna Thread

If you’ve got something to say about Adelina Sotnikova stealing the gold, say it here.

The top Sports news list at Naver says it all:

스크린샷, 2014-02-21 10:27:05

UPDATE: The Facebook pages of the ISU and Russian President Vlad Putin are reportedly getting flooded with angry comments from Korean netizens. The comments at the ISU page are mostly in English, while the ones on Vlad’s page are largely in Korean… and a bit earthier. Or so the report says.

Meanwhile, SBS announcer Bae apparently left a couple of comments on Putin’s Facebook, too, namely, “If you’re going to hold a neighborhood sports day, why did you invite us?” and “Sochi is the suchi (shame) of the Olympics.” He later removed the comments.

Some netizens, though, worry about a repeat of what happened to the British skater Elise Christie, while others worry that Chinese and Japanese netizens and possibly North Korean cyber agents posing as (South) Koreans might post abuse just to make Koreans look bad.

Ordinarily, I’d say online abuse makes Korea look bad, but frankly, I can think of few world figures more deserving of salty online commentary than Vlad Putin.

이상화 Sanghwa Lee wins the first Sochi gold for South Korea

After several disappointing results in the men’s speed skating (이승훈, 모태범) dominated by the seemingly invincible Netherlands, 이상화Sanghwa Lee finally broke the dry-spell for S.Korea by winning the gold medal for women’s 500m speed skating at Sochi.
It was her second Olympic gold medal 37.42 (first race) + 37.28 (second race) = 74.40 (total) – an Olympic record but not her personal record. She was joined on the podium by Russia’s Olga Fatkulina (silver, 75.06) and Netherlands’ Margot Boer (bronze, 75.48). Lee was coached by Canada’s Kevin Crockett (former name Kevin Overland).

Victor An (Ahn Hyunsoo) who became a Russian national took bronze for Russia at the short track (1500m). It was a meaningful bronze as he left after many revelations and accusations pointing at the Korean Skating Federation (대한민국 빙상연맹), they are indeed riddled with many scandals surrounding favoritism and factionalism. Many Koreans were rooting for him, especially with sympathy at what he had to endure under the Korean skating federation and he has also been cheering for his Korean juniors 후배’s so the bond still seems to be there, and no hard feelings. The latest Korean media interest in him has been from the introduction of his pretty girlfriend Nari Oo who’s meant to have been his fan for 10 years.

This 파싸움(factionalism) within the various Korean sports federations which eats away at the core of Korean sports spirit is not the story of yesterday and today (어제오늘일이 아니다, meaning it’s been around and known for a while). Another famous case is Sarang’s father Choo Sunghoon (Akiyama Yoshihiro) who wanted to compete for South Korea in Judo, but then went back to Japan and took the Japanese nationality to win gold for Japan against Korea. Judging by his appearance and attitude on the Korean television show Superman Returned as Sarang’s father, his bond for Korea is not waning at all.

Korean Football Team gets an education on how (not) to use the SNS

As a result of a recent palaver following the footballer 기성용 Ki Sungyong slagging off the former national team manager 최강희(Choi Kanghee) on his twitter, South Korean National Men’s Football team (a.k.a Team Hong Myungbo 홍명보호) is to receive a special lesson on how to keep their big SNS gobs shut.

National Men’s Football Team Coach Hong Myungbo – 출처:스포츠동아DB .

Hong Myungbo, Mr.Charisma himself, who was recently appointed as 감독 Manager to direct the national team, is having none of the monkeying-around by Ki. Although Ki himself has mentioned Hong with much respect and awe during multiple previous occasions, Hong in turn, silenced the possibility of showing a soft-spot for Ki by saying :

홍명보 감독은 기성용에게 “대표팀 감독이 아니라 축구 선배로서 (말하자면)앞으로 바깥세상과 소통하기보다는 부족한 내면의 세계를 넓혀 갔으면 한다”며 “협회의 경고조치를 가볍게 생각해서는 안 될 것이다. 축구에서 옐로카드가 어떤 의미를 주는지에 대해 잘 생각해야 할 것이다. 앞으로 주의 깊게 관찰하겠다”고 말했다.
As a 축구선배 (Football sunbae/senior) and not as a national team manager, I would advise him(Ki) to make an effort to widen/teach his inner self which is very much lacking (in various qualities) rather than to worry about communicating with the outside world. He should not take the Football Commission’s warning lightly, and instead think about the meaning of a yellow card during a football game. I will keep a close eye on him.”

Who knows? Marrying a 누나 might calm him down a bit in the future – here he is marrying the lovely actress Han Hyejin.
I would also say that a lesson in SNS might not be a bad idea for a lot of people. Or just any sort of anger-management. Or a help-line one can call before pressing that “publish” or “tweet” button.

South Korean Footballer Ki Sungyong to marry Actress/presenter Han Hyejin

South Korean footballer Ki Sungyong(24, Swansea City) is set to marry the pretty actress and straight-talking presenter of the SBS Interview Show “Healing Camp” Han Hyejin (32) in July. Here he is on the talk show last year before they started going out, saying that he prefers older women, and cannot stand the “oppa” addressing from younger girls – he also confesses that Han is his type and that he would marry (somebody-like-her) straight away.

Ki, the midfielder who scored the winning goal against Team GB (in the penalties) for Team Hong Myungbo in the 2012 London Olympics, is quite well known for his 욱하는 성질 (literally “Uuk”-hanun character – Uuk-hada means to get angry/emotional/to see red – the sound characterizing anger brimming over in the throat), and lack of self-control. On the same episode of the show (episode 58*) which you can watch in its entirety he talks about his character on the field, about the team, about the bronze-medal and the controversial goal ceremonies, and about his friendship with Ku Jachul (FC Augsburg). It’s quite interesting.

Personally, Ki Sungyong really reminds me of many Korean boys/men I have met both in Korea, but mainly outside Korea. Some of them very nice, bright and confident who have spent their formative years battling some sort of prejudice outside Korea (I guess maybe boys have it harder) turn quite nationalistic in a simplistic sense.

Here’s hoping that their marriage is long and happy. It was sad to learn that another one of Ki’s friends, Cha Duri just divorced his wife. It cannot be easy for the Korean footballers and their WAGs following their celebrity husbands to less-known cities abroad.

*Correction: I forgot that there are usually two episodes of one interviewee in the Healing Camp. In Episode 59 which I am watching now Ki actually mentions the loneliness and the unglamourous lifestyle of a lonely Korean footballer in an European team -he says he’s had to eat 계란밥 (raw egg + rice + soy sauce for 1 month – lack of Korean food/material) -sniff sniff

On sexed up sports and sedation

The recent article in the KT about TV sportstalk babes baring more skin is nothing new, but that dentist they interviewed and his take on the skin thing is likely to creep some people out.

All of which leads me to ask: is it pronounced sports-talk or sport-stalk?

Oh, a self-proclaimed “master” of adult videos, said he felt an adrenalin rush different to what he experiences from such videos when watching the sports round-up.

“The announcers in such shows are not explicit, but sexy, and at the same time they are active and elegant,” he said.

According to Oh, a dentist in Seoul who has to be at his hospital around 7 a.m., he felt compelled to watch the 30-minute-long late-night baseball show and then downloaded all previous episodes.

[Insert "strangulation of fowl" sports reference joke here]

If I was a woman, after reading those quotes, I might be hesitant about being sedated for whatever dental procedure Dr. Oh might suggest.

Granted, you gotta give the guy credit for allowing the use of his full name in the piece, but discussing what seems to be a focused study on the nuanced differences between porn and sports presenters might not be good for ye ole practice.

And to those who would move to prevent sexy sport reporting, Oh goes for the gender rights jugular.

“If somebody wants to criticize the announcers, he or she should consider denouncing those girl groups first. Why can’t they see that the sports-ladies are expressing their beauty?”

Duly noted, big Oh.

Well, at least they’re cute

Needless to say, the Korean netizenry was not amused. The Youtube comments are enlightening, too.

Son Heungmin on ZDF Sportstudio

손흥민, (Heungmin Son), the 20 year old Bundesliga footballer who plays for Hamburg was interviewed on a major German sports show . If you can play the clip, he is quite fluent in German (with a cute Korean accent) although he’s severly inflicted with the German habit to start and pepper every sentence liberally with a “Natürlich”.

He says he feels quite content in Hamburg, (aber natürlich, it is the happiest city in Germany according to a recent study) and has just signed another year despite growing interests from the Premier Leauge.

During the TV interview, he is charming, constantly smiling from shyness like a boy of his age would be. He is the best under 21 scorer (with 9 goals) in the Bundesliga. He is shown a msg clip from Chuncheon, where his stern father manages a football school. He also answers various twitter questions where he quotes Cristiano Ronaldo and Park Jisung as players he respects the most.

Incidentally, the precocity of Son and his father’s football school made me wonder is 날아라 슛돌이” (Narara Shootdori – that show showcasing kkoma football talent) still on on Korean TV?

I reckon it’s only matter of time before the Korean mothers teaching violin and piano to their little precious turn to where the real money is, and then the K-league would be a class of its own crammed full with overflowing talent by those kids who didn’t make it abroad. The reason football falls behind the art of regurgitating Western classical music and little wannabe Yunas learning figure skating is only because the role of education was chiefly left to the mothers and not to the fathers.

Anyway, here’s the summary in the Korean press (Chosun) also with a link to the interview somebody put on youtube.

Wrestling dropped from Summer Olympics, Korea bummed

I don’t know how many will mourn the loss of wrestling from the Olympic Games, but a tip o’ the hat to Yonhap’s headline on the news:

“S. Koreans grapple with wrestling’s exclusion from Olympics.”

Of more concrete interest in what an absence of sweaty, grappling men in outfits that resemble atomic wedgies means to the ROK in the Olympics:

South Korea lost one of its strongest sports at the Summer Games. The country has grabbed 11 gold medals and 35 medals in total in wrestling.

Wrestling also gave South Korea its first Olympic gold, as Yang Jung-mo claimed the men’s 62-kilogram division in freestyle at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

This not counting Sohn Kee-chung’s gold medal performance at the 1936 Berlin Games, under the Japanese flag.

Vying to replace wrestling in the 2020 Olympics —yes, you are afforded adequate time to get over the loss— are: karate, roller sports, squash, climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and baseball-softball.

I thought that list included “waterboarding” for a brief moment, but of course it doesn’t. And yes, I had to Google “wushu“.

Wait, I thought racial taunts were part of the sport?

It’s come to my attention that the United Kingdom apparently has laws against football fans shouting racial abuse at players:

British media on Tuesday said the West London Magistrates’ Court found Everton fan William Blything guilty of racially abusing Park and Everton’s Victor Anichebe.

He reportedly shouted, “Take down that chink” referring to Park. Chink is a derogatory term for Chinese people.

Being an ignorant American, I’d thought that sort of abuse was part of the charm of Premier League football.

Anyway, in defense of William Blything, I will note:

a) he’s equal-opportunity in his abuse, having also referred to Nigerian-born Anichebe as a “f****** black monkey”;

b) he denies even being racist (or even saying what was attributed to him):

However, he remained defiant after the verdict and said he is not racist and that his daughter has a ‘coloured boyfriend.’


Korean football chief apologizes for apologizing

The handling of the “Olympic Dokdo Sign Incident” has now reached a new level of farce.

Korean Football Association chief Cho Chung-yun apologized before the National Assembly on Friday for sending an apologetic letter to the head of the Japan Football Association for Park Jong-woo’s “Dokdo Ceremony”:

During a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly’s committee on culture and sports, Cho Chung-yun, head of the Korea Football Association (KFA), apologized for a controversial letter sent by the KFA to the Japan Football Association (JFA).

The letter, written in English, was sent Monday, days after Korea’s Park Jong-woo, in celebrating his team’s 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match in London, carried around a sign that read in Korean, “Dokdo Is Our Territory.” The letter came under fire for its apologetic tone and for the KFA’s apparent acknowledgment of Park’s wrongdoing.

“I’d like to sincerely apologize for the trouble this letter has caused,” Cho told lawmakers. “When the situation demands, then I can take the responsibility.”

According to the Korea Times, critics contend that “the KFA admitted Park had engaged in inappropriate behavior before any official ruling from either FIFA or the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”

Judging from USFK’s recent apologies, I’d thought that’s how things are supposed to be done over here, but I guess not.

Anyway, the JoongAng Ilbo got a hold of the “shocking” email and posted it to their website. It’s just barely legible, but if you look closely at your monitor, you can make it out. Ordinarily, I’d say aside from the fact Cho should have had it copy-edited before clicking “send,” I can’t see anything wrong with Cho’s letter. It’s the sort of boilerplate apology you’d be expected to send after an incident like this.

If anything, Cho understated things by denying Park’s act was political, when anyone who’s not intentionally bullshitting him or herself knows it was.

I said “ordinarily,” however, because sadly, I know exactly what the problem with Cho’s letter is. I’m pretty sure the higher-ups at the Korean Olympic Committee, Korea Football Association and elsewhere know perfectly well that Park’s “Dokdo ceremony” was unacceptable and inexcusable. You don’t need an IOC judgement to apologize in this case—Park’s act speaks for itself. The problem is, public sentiment regarding, well, most things Japan-related is so poisonous, officials can’t do what needs to be done—at least publicly—even in such an obvious situation like this. Sure, given Japan’s history of forced, half-ass apologizes for things much worse than waving a Dokdo sign, there’s probably some degree of karma to that, but I can’t see how it helps, either with Japan or, in this case, with the greater international community.

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