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Archive for June, 2006

Then vs. Now

Posted by Brian on June 26, 2006

UPDATE: TO be fair, I just discovered this far more level-headed editorial from the Korea Times that places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players and coaching staff. 

The Korea Times writes on the World Cup referreeing controversy in their loss to Switzerland:

It was galling to the Korean team and its coach, Dick Advocaat, to see the Argentine referee ignore a linesman's offside flag in the buildup to a goal scored by a Swiss player on Saturday. It was the most painful of the decisions that they felt were biased during the World Cup match.

But here's what the Korea Times was saying four years ago after their victory over Italy, a game that also had it's share of controversial calls… but this time in favor of Korea:

They said it was a miracle. But it was not a miracle. South Korea deserved the 2-1 sweet come-from-behind victory over three-time champions Italy in the second round of the World Cup. They did their best against the heavily favored Italians.

It is not improper to celebrate the Korean triumph that stunned the world and to comfort the defeated. Where there is winner, there must be loser.

While Koreans were celebrating through the night, Italians were suffering profound grief.

However, it is really regrettable that Italians appear to be sore losers, claiming they were robbed of the victory due to unfair refereeing.

In particular, veteran coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who must be a man of great knowledge about the sport, claimed that bad decision-making had robbed his team throughout the tournament.

According to AP reports, the seething Italian coach said, “We go out with our heads held high, but with a lot of recriminations. If we think about who should have won, I’d say it should have been Italy…(but) soccer is like that.’’

If Trapattoni feels that way, he should have volunteered to referee the game himself. It is utterly cowardly for such a seasoned leader to shift the blame for his team’s defeat. He might have praised the referee if his team won.

It is a grave misunderstanding to expect to be winners at all times. There is no permanent winner. All 32 countries that qualified for soccer’s greatest event could win or be defeated in any match.

The Italians complained of an early penalty kick, a red card and a disallowed goal, among others, claming they were unfairly knocked out of the World Cup because of lousy refereeing.

This suggests that Koreans enthusiastically celebrated an “unfair’’ victory thanks to the “dishonest’’ referee, which is an insult to all Koreans as well as the FIFA referees.

TV broadcasts repeatedly showed what happened in the goal area after Ecuadorean referee Byron Moreno awarded a penalty kick to the home team just five minutes after the kickoff.

As Song Chong-guk’s free-kick floated in, Seol Ki-hyeon was wrestled to the ground by Christian Panucci, and Kim Nam-il was pulled down by another Italian defender meters away from the referee. It was absolutely fair, right and brave decision by the referee.

In the middle of first half, the referee booked Francesco Totti for a forearm chop that caught Kim Nam-il in the face as both went for a high ball. In extra time, Totti fell in the penalty area, to the surprise of world soccer fans as well as Koreans in red, and the referee reached for a yellow card because the AS Roma star had taken a dive, or playacted, which FIFA vowed to get tough with. The referee had no reason to remember when making that decision that Totti had been carded earlier. And it is no wonder that he had to be sent off.

Italians should know how much their players’ rough and cunning fouls throughout the game made the home fans angry. For instance, Italy’s top player, Christian Vieri, avoided a yellow card for elbowing Kim Tae-young, forcing the Korean defender to be stretchered off briefly.

In the eyes of Koreans, the Italians were not only skillful with their feet, but also with their hands.

Trapattoni said after the match that “inability and low attention in the end caused a disaster.’’ He should have admitted that he had caused the disaster by coaching his players in such a way. He should have listened to Korean coach Guus Hiddink, who said there were mistakes, but not grave ones.

The virtue of sports is for the winners to comfort the losers and for the losers to congratulate the winners.

Needless to say, Italy is an undisputed soccer powerhouse that has taken home the coveted World Cup trophy three times.

The brilliant performances of the co-hosts of the 2002 FIFA Korea/Japan World Cup testify to the overall improvement in global soccer standards. This is really a good thing for the development of the sport. If Italy want to remain an international soccer leader, they should first learn how to congratulate the winners.

It is not befitting for Italians, who love arts and sports like Koreans, to blame others for their defeat in a sporting event.

They should realize the blood, sweat and tears shed by the Korean players in the process of preparing for the tournament over the past two years. Our team is worthy of such a historic achievement. Do not ruin the festive mood.

Posted in Korean Issues | 3 Comments »

Tough Break, Korea

Posted by Brian on June 24, 2006

Korea got bounced from the World Cup.

I predicted as much…. Korea barely beat Togo, barely tied France, and needed to beat a Swiss team that had yet to give up a single goal and was playing for the exact same stakes the Korean team was playing for: advancement to the round of 16. The Swiss looked good while the Korean team fell flat. Couple that with a France win and Korean fell to third when the games were over.

Of course, as you probably heard, the second Swiss goal has created a firestorm of anger among Korean netizens. I'm still not sure what exactly the problem is. Some people are saying that the scorer of the second Swiss goal was offsides, while my students are saying it wasn't offsides, but that the line judge's incorrect flagging of it as offsides triggered the Korean defenders to go lax, allowing Swiss to get an easy point.

What's missing in all the uproar is the realization that it's probably a moot point anyway. In light of the France-Togo score (2-0), you would need to swing three whole points away from the Swiss to Korea to give Korea the top spot in the group. Sure, cancel the disputed goal, but you'd still have to give Korea 2 more goals all in the last 20 minutes of the game to give them the win. Not likely…

Looking around this daum cafe dedicated to the WC, I see:

  • One netizen proposing that Koreans boycott Swiss watches
  • Another netizen proposing that Koreans gather together to cheer for the Ukrainians in their game against Switzerland.
  • There's a few mentions of FIFA boss Seth Blatter being Swiss, as well as the wife of the Argentinian referee.
  • A sad picture of Lee Chun-soo crying.
  • Directions for writing to FIFA demanding a rematch between the two teams
  • Sad pictures of Korean Red Devils crying
  • And via Ohmynews, FIFA proof that is was, in fact, offsides
  • Not sure what this is supposed to mean
  • Unleash the Photoshoppers

The blunt fact that Red Devils are trying their best to ignore, is that the Korean team just didn't look all that hot this year. A better team would have beat Togo with a better differential, and a better team would have beat the French.

While I found the overheated nationalism surrounding the event to be just as annoying a the next foreigner, the truth is that I'm sad to see Korea out so soon. I know it would have made my girlfriend so happy to see them continue, and the excitement in my students and co-workers has been a joy to watch.

Better luck next time, Korea.

Posted in Korean Issues | 1 Comment »


Posted by Brian on June 23, 2006

What is it with Korean entertainers and press conferences:

On Tuesday at around 5 p.m., 112 operators received a call from a woman who said she had been the victim of a mugging. It was Chung Ahn, the front woman of the duo Candyman who released a solo album last month.

However, police believe the singer fabricated the incident. The singer apparently failed to take into account the numerous security cameras in the area. A Suseo police officer said a look at footage from the CCTV cameras at Seolleung station and the near the building shows the singer walking by herself. Confronted with the evidence, the singer admitted she made the incident up.

At a press conference Friday, Chung Ahn apologized for the incident saying she was supposed to perform on a live radio show but she felt bad and not in good voice, so she just wanted to escape from the appearance. “I didn’t realize things would escalate like this,” she added. Determined to make the incident seem real, she entered the lavatory in a building in a quiet area, where she hit herself in the face and cut up her clothes with a knife.

In other words, third-tier Korean pop star (I had never heard of her) fabricates a story of being assaulted, gets busted for it, then feels the need to hold a press conference explaining her side of the story. Was their a boisterous uproar demanding an explanation that I wasn't aware of?

This case reminds me the dueling press conferences that took place when some celeb couple got divorced a few years ago (forgot their names, but I think it was a baseball player and an actress). One would hold a solo press conference, then the other would respond with another of their own, and back and forth it would go. After a few rounds of this, no one really gave a damn and the final press conference was given to a handfull of journalists (and a dog!). The ego of these people just astounds me…

And on top of getting punished for fabricating this incident, they should tack on a few months of jail time just for making that stupid heart symbol with her hands!

Posted in Korean Issues | 1 Comment »

The Survey of the American Man

Posted by Brian on June 22, 2006

Esquire did a survey of American men asking about politics, sex, and fashion. Here are what I consider to be some of the more itneresting results, along with my own answer.

1. Who is the most admirable man in America?

Colin Powell – 5.9%
Bill Clinton – 5.8%
Bill Gates – 5.8%
George W. Bush – 5.3%
John McCain – 4.0%
Billy Graham – 3.8%
Jimmy Carter – 2.7%

My vote: Jimmy Carter

2. Who is the least admirable man in America?

George W. Bush – 14.8%
Bill Clinton – 7.8%
Ted Kennedy – 7.7%
Dick Cheney – 4.6%
John Kerry – 2.7%

My vote: George W. Bush

 7. Which of the following best describes your level of alcohol consumption?

I don’t drink, period. 26%
I’ll have the occasional drink at a party. 37%
I have a few drinks a week. 27%
I have three or more drinks most days. 5%
I drink daily, but never more than a drink or two. 5%

My vote: I have a few drinks a week, mostly cocktails at home.

11. Which of these three words best describes your belief (or not) in God?

Believer – 78%
Atheist – 6%
Agnostic – 16%

My vote: Agnostic

28. How many suits do you own?

National Average – 2.8
South – 3.1
Northeast – 2.9
Midwest – 2.4
West – 2.5

 My answer: 5

You’re hosting a dinner party and you can invite three men and three women from the following lists. Who’s coming to dinner? (Percentage is number who selected each person among their three choices.)

Condoleezza Rice – 35%
Oprah Winfrey – 33%
Angelina Jolie – 30%
Julia Roberts – 28%
Faith Hill – 27%
Jennifer Aniston – 26%
Hillary Clinton – 21%
Katie Couric – 21%
Rachael Ray – 20%
Ellen DeGeneres – 19%
Jessica Simpson – 17%
Madonna – 11%
Dr. Laura Schlessinger – 9%
Maureen Dowd – 5%

Jay Leno – 37%
Bill Clinton – 36%
George Clooney – 36%
George W. Bush – 36%
Tiger Wood – 31%
Jon Stewart – 27%
Bill O’Reilly – 18%
Bono – 16%
Dick Cheney – 16%
Bob Dylan – 15%
Howard Stern – 14%
LeBron James – 7%
Johnny Knoxville – 6%
Eminem – 5%

My votes: For women, Angelina Jolie and Maureen Dowd (I can’t pick a third because those are the only ones I’m remotely interested in spending any time with). For men, Bill Clinton, George Clooney, and Jon Stewart.

Posted in Personal | 2 Comments »

America vs. Ghana

Posted by Brian on June 22, 2006

Who do you like tonight?

I haven't seen any Ghana games, but if they can beat the Czechs they can beat anyone. America, on the other, far more pathetic hand, has yet to score a goal this World Cup and doesn't appear to be able to do so any time soon. My heart says America, but the bookie in me says Ghana, no doubt still psyched from their big win, will take it.

Go red, white, and blue!

Posted in Other | Leave a Comment »

The Goal that wasn’t

Posted by Brian on June 20, 2006

Anyone else think France was robbed in the game against Korea? One Korean netizen doesn't think so and was kind enough to put up some vid caps to demonstrate:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Looks like a goal to me… and the video footage looks even more damning. The goalie was a step back in the goal and reached back to pop the ball out. Not a goal?

Anyway, as I was reading about this non-call online, I stumbled across a recent article on the worst refereeing decisions in World Cup history. Korea is listed as the benificiary of two of them:

South Korea v Italy, 2002
All the attention was on Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno after the match amid claims he was affected by the vociferous home support. After awarding a debatable fourth-minute penalty to Korea – which was saved – he then sent off Francesco Totti after showing him a second yellow card for diving despite the Italy playmaker appearing to have been tripped. Damiano Tomassi had a golden goal winner ruled out and the hosts snatched victory late on. Moreno was later removed from the FIFA list of match officials.

South Korea v Spain, 2002
Once again the co-hosts benefited from a large slice of luck after two Spain goals were disallowed and the Koreans went on to win their quarter-final on penalties. Just after half-time Kim Tae-young appeared to knock the ball into his own net from a Spanish free-kick only for the effort to be ruled out because of an 'offside' Fernando Morientes. Then in the second minute of extra-time Morientes had a header cancelled out when the assistant referee wrongly ruled the ball had crossed the line before Joaquin put in the cross.

But back to this World Cup, I'm not optimistic about Korea's chances to advance. France is more than likely going to win against the Togo team, meaning that both Switzerland and Korea need a win rather than a tie to ensure a spot among the final 16. The Swiss have been playing decent football, while Korea barely beat Togo and needed some fortuitous assistance from the ref to walk away from the France game with 1 point. I think the Swiss will outplay Korea, unfortunately.

Tonight at 4am is the England and Sweden game, a match I will gladly wake up early for.

Posted in Korean Issues | 5 Comments »

Park “Hallryuwood Action” Ji-sung

Posted by Brian on June 15, 2006

It looks like Park Ji-sung has stolen a page out of Anton Ohno's playbook: "Hollywood Action":

"Why does he keep falling over like that?" people once asked of “foul king” Park Ji-sung. After being picked up by Manchester United, he was in the spotlight, but not always for positive reasons. Particularly in fights for the ball with the opposing team's defenders, Park often ended up on his back, which prompted some to think that he has weak fighting skills. But every time, Park said the same thing: "I think before I fall." It is a way of dealing with the other team’s adhesive defense or a rough tackle.

This tactic ended up laying the foundation for the Korean team's first win: seven fouls.

Of course, it's good tactics when Park does it.

Which reminds me, after the Korea-Togo game, they showed a montage of Korean players getting knocked around on the pitch by the opposing side. I didn't like this for a couple of reasons. First… it makes the other side look like a bunch of goons and the Korean side angelic in comparison. Second, soccer is a physical sport… so that the only way Korean players getting knocked around is significant is if it occurs more frequently than with other teams. Third, it reinforces the "Korea as victim" mentality that is prevalent here.

Posted in Korean Issues | 5 Comments »


Posted by Brian on June 14, 2006

As you can see, blogging has been a bit light and will continue to be for the next few weeks. The lack of posting is because I've cut off internet at home so I'm limited to blogging during my free time at work. Some random notes:

  • I hope to do some photoblogging during my 3-week trip to Thailand next month.
  • Upon returning to Seoul, it's right back to the airport for my flight back to Seattle. I'm scheduled to leave on the 26 of July.
  • I've been enjoying the World Cup so far, though the energy in the air doesn't come close to the way thing were 4 years ago. Has part of the festive spirit, my boss is letting us wear our team's soccer jerseys to work, so I'll be going to Dongdaemoon today to pick one up.
  • I hosted a poker night at my place over the weekend and raked in 25,000W. That's my lunch money for the week…

Posted in Personal | Leave a Comment »