Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Watching the World Cup at school: Korea vs. Russia

Lee Keun-ho from the South Korean soccer team. Image from the Guardian.
Although I'm not closely following this year's World Cup, I was still excited when it was announced that instead of going to zero period classes today, students and teachers would be treated to a live streaming of the Korea-versus-Russia World Cup game. Because of the time zone difference, games taking place in Brazil are shown at 1am, 4am, and 7am in Korea. This has definitely dampened enthusiasm for the World Cup in Korea this year, but really, nothing will stop them from supporting the "Red Devils" when they can.

I arrived at school a little after half-time, when the score was tied 0-0. It was exciting being in the auditorium with all my students and fellow teachers. The game was being played on a live stream on the big screen, and it was really exciting! I took some videos. The first clip is of the crowd's reaction when Korea took a shot at the goal, but it was saved by the Russian goalie. The second is just after Korea scored its goal, as the crowd responds to the slow-motion replay. It was amusing how the teachers around me hooted in laughter at the Russian goalie for screwing up. The last clip is the crowd's reaction after Russia scored: pure dismay!
Russia's goal was doubly disappointing because, in fact, we didn't see it happen! Toward the end of the game, so many people were online to watch it that the servers hosting the livestream on Naver and Daum crashed or malfunctioned in some way. Our screen began to freeze again and again, buffering, and then blanking out altogether. So when the Russian forward started toward Korea's goal, we got really excited -- and then the screen froze. Imagine the frustration! And when it started playing again, we saw that the score had changed to 1-1. 아~ 아타깝다! (What a shame!)

By that time, it was almost time to begin the first period classes, but of course nobody had any intention of leaving the auditorium. The game ended in a tie, and students were disappointed because the technical difficulties persisted (I'd have expected more from a science high school, haha) and because we didn't win. But given the low confidence Korea has in its own team, I'd say a tie with Russia is not a bad thing at all.

While I don't know any more about soccer now than I did before this morning, one good thing that comes from the World Cup is that I can use it as a springboard for conversation with my students and connect with them on another level, especially the shier students who like sports but not English.

Anyway, I probably won't watch any more World Cup games until the semifinals and finals, but I'm still hoping for the best for South Korea! 대한민국 화이팅! 

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P.S. Konglish time: 화이팅 (sometimes 파이팅, romanized as hwa/pa-i-ting) is the Korean version of jia you (加油) and ganbatte (がんばって), a common sports cheer and all-around picker-upper. It comes from the English word "fighting" and is equivalent to "Let's go!" and "You can do it!" or "BEAT THEM." If I had my way with Konglish and couldn't do away with it altogether, I'd at least change 화이팅 to something that makes a bit more grammatical sense. "Korea fighting!" still sounds odd to me... even though I use it all the time now. I can say 화이팅 to a struggling student, to my taekgyeon teammates as they spar, or to my friend who's had a bad day. It's a very useful word to know!

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