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Red Devils cheer for Team Korea's World Cup 2022 match against Uruguay

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Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, to cheer Team Korea's first World Cup match against Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap
Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, to cheer Team Korea's first World Cup match against Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap

By Lee Yeon-woo

Football fans across the country gathered at several different venues on Thursday night to cheer for Team Korea in its 2022 World Cup match against Uruguay.

Fans were excited about the game and some local governments agreed to set up multiple fan zones.

Hours before the game, fans clad in red T-shirts and carrying Korean national flags started to turn up in Gwanghwamun Square, one of the fan zones in Seoul. Spots near the main screen had already been occupied by fans from 6 p.m., prompting authorities to disperse people to seats in different places.

"Saudi Arabia beat Argentina, and Japan defeated Germany. I hope Korea can get this positive energy and trounce Uruguay today," a 24-year-old football fan, who asked to be identified only by the surname Kang, told The Korea Times.

He went to Gwanghwamun Square to show his support for Son Heung-min, the captain of the Korean national team and forward for British Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

Jun Ye-won, another football fan, went to a restaurant to watch the game.

"I've waited four years for this day as a fan of Song Heung-min. This is the match that is held on my birthday. I hope the team can score good results," she said.

Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, to cheer Team Korea's first World Cup match against Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap
Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, to cheer Team Korea's first World Cup match against Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap

On Tuesday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government approved an application by the official fan club of the Korean national football team, better known as the Red Devils, to establish a fan zone in the newly renovated Gwanghwamun Square.

Shortly after, several other local governments, including Incheon and Suwon, also unveiled their plans to offer fan zones with the Red Devils. Incheon set up a supersized screen at Incheon Football Stadium so that fans can watch the game there together. A similar event was held in Suwon World Cup Stadium, which has a capacity for up to 50,000 fans at a time. Suwon City has prohibited fans from bringing alcoholic drinks into the stadium for safety reasons. Drinking outside is allowed, and drinks will be sold nearby in the plaza next to the stadium.

Gyeonggi Governor Kim Dong-yeon encouraged football fans of the province to gather in Suwon World Cup Stadium to cheer for Team Korea. "I will work with the Red Devils to chant for Korea safely and passionately," he posted on Facebook.

Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, and rub paint on their faces before the game between Korean and Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap
Football fans gather at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, and rub paint on their faces before the game between Korean and Uruguay, Thursday. Yonhap

The Central Disaster Safety and Countermeasure Headquarters expected an estimated 40,000 football fans would gather in several different official venues across the nation to watch the game. The exact number has yet to be confirmed, but the actual number of people cheering for Korea far exceeded that, as many gathered in pubs or restaurants to watch the game.

CJ CGV, the country's largest cinema chain, transformed some of its theaters into fan zones.

Police are deployed to control crowds gathered to cheer a World Cup game between Korea and Uruguay in Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap
Police are deployed to control crowds gathered to cheer a World Cup game between Korea and Uruguay in Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, Thursday. Yonhap

The government tried to ensure safety at the fan zones, as the gatherings came only weeks after the deadly Oct. 29 crowd disaster in Itaewon that killed 158 people. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo looked around Gwanghwamun Square hours before the game, and checked safety measures prepared by Seoul City and the police.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government set up a situation room at Gwanghwamun Square to respond to possible emergencies, with 276 officials dispatched to the place.

The National Police Agency deployed 41 police officers, along with eight police squads (480 personnel) in Gwanghwamun Square for crowd control.

Other local governments also came up with their own crowd control measures.

Han encouraged local governments to do their utmost to promote safety at cheering events. He also asked citizens to behave safely.


Lee Yeon-woo yanu@koreatimes.co.kr


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