Last night I found my footballing home in Korea, with a trip to Sangam (World Cup) Stadium to see FC Seoul take on Suwon. Unlike my previous visit, I was now a Suwon fan thanks to the fickle team-supporting of a co-teacher and the fact one of my Korean friends is from Suwon. I got to experience firsthand the most committed “ultras” in Korea, the Suwon Grandbleu and got interviewed by TV station MBC because I was one of the only foreigners in an away section filled with hardcore fans!
Best of all though were the chants- one to “Yellow Submarine”, and an interactive all-singing all-dancing one to “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” where whole rows of supporters linked arms and threw their heads back and forth. We drew 1-1 in the first leg of the K-League Championship decider, going down in the first half thanks to incredibly sloppy defending on a set piece, but finalling getting back into the game with 10 minutes to go after sustained pressure. The atmosphere was far more similar to an English football match that anything else I’ve experienced in Asia. Being in the away section obviously made the whole thing a better experience, and their were funny chants (translated thanks to Mr.Che) about FC Seoul being a “fake” team because they only moved to Seoul a few years ago, as well as insults directed at the ref and opposition players, usually uncommon in Asian (well, Japanese and Korean) football.
Best of all was the chant after we’d pulled level- “Nisuwon, Nisuwon, Nisuwon!”
The second-leg decider is on sunday in Suwon.