Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bend It Like Beckham

I was sat in a Pizza restaurant yesterday when I noticed a familiar looking logo on the coat of a Korean guy sat nearby. Two red lozenge shapes with yellow writing arranged in a vaguely circular fashion - and while I couldn't make out the words perhaps if I looked in the centre to confirm my suspicions - yes there was the clinching evidence of a 'red devil' - Manchester United football club. Curiously, while the logo was unmistakably that of the British soccer club, the 'Red Devil' is also the name of the supporters' club of the Korean national football team.

I've seen a lot of Union Jacks here on clothing, bags, and twenty-foot high commercial signage, but a Manchester United logo was a first. Still, David Beckham was in the capital the other day to play a match against FC Seoul so perhaps it wasn't entirely surprising that there should be a link to his old team and some merchandise being sold.

A little later, another man, entirely unconnected from the first arose from his seat to reveal a rather large Union Flag on the front of his jacket, with the words "BRITISH CULTURE" emblazoned underneath, in case you were in any doubt at all. This attracted my attention for long enough to note a large cannon logo on the other side of the zip, and sure enough, as he passed by, the Arsenal Football Club logo fully resolved itself.

Coincidence or is there a sudden football fashion fad breaking out?


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,

Fellow british Busan survivor here!

Came across your blog while googling korean baseball so thought I'd say hello. Love the blog, read longer than I intended too


mark said...

Thats your first time seeing ManU merchandise in Korea? In my 3 weeks in Korea I saw countless examples of Premier League merch, a large majority of which was ManU (largely thanks to Park Ji Sung), but also a smaller representation of the other members of the big 4 (Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal).

On Korean tv I dont think I saw a single football game that didn't involve one of the big 4 teams and saw many 'classic' ManU matches.

My understanding that Asia in general is pretty obsessed with the Premier League and Korea is more Manchester United obsessed than most, with their best national player on the team list.

I'm told that the other than the wild support for the Korean national team and fairly broad interest in the Premier League, the national K-league suffers from lack of interest.

Though I get the feeling that most Koreans are supporting Park Ji Sung rather than Manchester United. I get the feeling that many Korean ManU fans would switch channels if Park wasn't playing in a particular game.

Anonymous said...

Football (soccer) took off here after the 2002 World Cup when Korea reached the semi-finals.

Before 2002 most Koreans knew David Beckham and Michael Owen but that was about it.

However, when Park Ji Sung was signed by Manchester United and Lee Young Po by Tottenham Hotspur English Premier League games started to gain in popularity.

Now there are four Korean players with Premier League teams:

Lee Dong Gook - Middlesbrough
Seol Ki Hyeon - Fulham (previously with Reading)
Park Ji Sung - Man Utd
Lee Young Po - Spurs

The result of this is more games being televised that don't involve the Top Four.

You'll be surprised to discover, Koreans don't all blindly support teams from the top four, there are plenty of supporters of Spurs, Reading, Fulham and Boro.

Why shouldn't they follow the Premiership? It's a good product.

And yes, I have taught students who don't follow the Premiership but prefer to support their own local K-League team.

Post a Comment