A little bit of Seoul


Sports editor

As the sunrise filtered through the front doors of an empty office

building in a strip mall on Pacific Highway South in Federal Way yesterday, hundreds of red-clad South Korean soccer fans gathered in front of three giant screens to cheer the national team in the World Cup semifinals.

Although 5,000 miles away, the fans felt a connection with their counterparts at the stadium in host country Korea by beating drums and chanting “Daehan Minguk” (Republic of Korea) and “Oh Pilseung Korea!” (Oh, Korea wins).

The red shirts were in support of the team, nicknamed the Red Devils. Many wore shirts with the slogan “Be the Reds.” Others wore South Korean flags on their cheeks.

“Federal Way is one of the central locations for the Korean-American community,” City Councilman Mike Park said during a break in the chanting. “We are very proud and pleased with how well the team has done. We want to convey to them the support to win.”

Consul General Byung-Rok Moon from the South Korea embassy in Seattle drove down to Federal Way for the game, which started at 4:30 a.m.

Park and Korean Association president Junpae Kim helped organize the festivities.

“The Korean team came to the semifinals under their own power, not luck,” Moon said. “They have the skill and technique to face the Germans. We are very proud of them.”

World Cup fever spread across the Pacific Ocean, especially after South Korea’s shoot-out win over Spain on Saturday. South Korea President Kim Dae-jung called it the nation’s happiest day in 5,000 years.

When the team came into the tournament, it had never won a game in five World Cup appearances. But it beat Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain to reach the final four.

Although South Korea lost to Germany 1-0, “it was a very exciting game,” said Federal Way High School student Sung Kwak, who shaved his hair in the design of a soccer ball.

When Germany scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal, the fans fell silent with shock and disbelief.

But at the end of the game, they stood and sang the national anthem.

“Everybody seemed to be happy even though we lost the game because we did so well in the tournament,” said Kyung Oh. “I think that is a good attitude to have.”

The crowd will likely gather again at the building just north of 336th when South Korea plays in the third-place game on Friday.

Sports editor Cole Cosgrove can be reached at 925-5565 and

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