***I DON’T HAVE FIFA’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO USE, TALK, THINK OR EVEN YELL AT RANDOS FROM MY BALCONY ABOUT ANY NAMES, COUNTRIES OR EVENTS MENTIONED IN MY FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 COVERAGE, SO FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS FROM HERE ON IN, THE EVENT WILL BE REFERRED TO AS QLAMQTAR 2022.***
The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 4 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.
But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at South Korea, which has participated in ten World Cups.
The heroes of one of sports’ greatest ever fairytales (depending on if its set to the Requiem For A Dream song)
Nickname: The Taegeuk Warriors
FIFA Ranking: 28 (June 2022)
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Qualified top of group
At the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted by Japan & South Korea, we were witness to one of the greatest fairytale stories ever in the history of world sports.
South Korea, a nation that had never previously won even so little as a single World Cup group match, managed to finish their group in top spot by defeating Poland in their opener, getting a point against the US and squeaking out a 1-0 win over Portugal. Already reaching unscaled heights, next they defeated then-three time World Cup winner Italy in the second round, and European juggernaut Spain in the quarter final (before ultimately falling in the semis to Germany). Marking the first time an Asian nation had ever reached the last four of a World Cup, it was a glorious achievement for the co-host. Not so much if you set it to the Requiem for a Dream song though.
Hit play on the the above song (and play it again once its done. And then again). Okay, now let’s look back at South Korea’s 2002 achievement once more…
In their World Cup opener, South Korea knocked off Poland (this one checks out–Poland fucking suck at World Cups these days). Next, they drew with the USA, and then in their final group match they defeated Portugal 1-0, with the referee sending off Portugal’s Joao Pinto (kind of okay call too). Advancing to the knockout phase, South Korea faced three-time world champion Italy in the second round, presided over by referee Byron Moreno (who only months later was suspended for refereeing misconduct and in 2010 was arrested at New York’s JFK airport for trying to smuggle in 6 kg of cocaine strapped to his body). In a farcical encounter, Italy’s Francesco Totti was sent off for diving, Kim Tae-Young elbowed Alessandro Del Piero square between the eyeballs and completely escaped punishment, Italy’s extra-time winner was disallowed for who knows what, and then in the 117th minute, Jung Hwan-Anh popped up to head in the golden goal winner for the Koreans.
Not content with that miracle/debacle, Korea then knocked out European powerhouse Spain in the quarter finals, in a game in which the Spanish had two perfectly legal goals ruled out and Korea then took on penalties. In doing so, they became the first ever Asian team (in the first ever World Cup on Asian soil) to reach the semi-finals. Germany would end the Koreans run there however, on the doorstep of the final, but by then, the South Koreans’ miraculous accomplishment/egregious skullduggery had been completed.
Prior to 2002, Korea had done jack shit at the World Cup, being eliminated in the group stage all five times without a single win. Same deal (pretty much) since 2002, barring a second round appearance in 2010 (where their only win was against shitty Greece) and a 2-0 defeat of defending champions Germany at the 2018 World Cup (but thanks to other results, they were ultimately eliminated anyway). South Korea’s pre and post-2002 performances have been so grim, that the song you’re listening to may actually add some shine to them and may even make them seem half-decent.
Korea’s miraculous run at the 2002 World Cup remains the national team’s most impressive achievement and the benchmark for Asian soccer. Well, depending if you’re listening to the Requiem for a Dream song still, that is.
*but you know, anything looks bad when set to the Requiem for a Dream Song, even the happy ending in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
One to watch: The curse of 1960
After South Korea triumphed in the the 1960 AFC Asian Cup, the team were promised gold winners medals. But instead, they were given cheap gold plated knock offs, for reasons still unknown, but allegedly as a result of a team official pocketing the money that should have been spent on the production of the awards. Appalled after noticing the paint from the medals peeling off, the South Korean team returned their medals to the national football association. 62 years later, South Korea, arguably Asia’s strongest team, have not won an AFC Asian Cup since (losing in the final four times since and most recently in 2015, in extra-time to hosts Australia). And sure, the families of some of those players have been given the originally promised gold medals only now over the last eight years, but it’s a bit late. And lame. Too late and too lame, Korean FA.
Good one, South Korean officials from 1960. Next time you give your players shitty fake gold medals why don’t you stop and think for a second about the fate you’re dooming the next 3-4 generations to.
The Highpoint: 2002, duh. For now, and probably for ever, till the sun runs out of hydrogen and dies
2002. Not even the most deranged psycho killing South Korean would have predicted what would happen that year in the World Cup, and not even the same maniac would believe it’s going to happen again. And it’s a shame really, because now, the next 3.5 billion years have been ruined for the national team, and all South Korean fans have to look forward to is just waiting out the clock until first, the sun’s hydrogen supply runs out, then it expands and burns 40% brighter–subsequently boiling earth’s oceans and permanently melting the ice caps causing all life to perish–until it ultimately stops burning and becomes a white dwarf (long after the earth was no longer hospitable anyway) until it eventually dies. Enjoy it, Red Devils!
Not so fast though, because it appears as though an Italian (probably) considers one of their matches (probably the Italy game) a draw (below). Now there’s an idea for something you can keep yourself occupied with for the next three-and-a-half billion years, South Korean fans: having a back-and-forth Wikipedia editing war with this (probable) Italian! *
*But whoops, sorry, I just remembered–I corrected the entry already. Soz, Korea!
Learn the lingo & speak like a local!
FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022 | GROUP STAGE
24 Nov 2022
URUGUAY 🇺🇾 x 🇰🇷 SOUTH KOREA
28 Nov 22
SOUTH KOREA 🇰🇷 x 🇬🇭 GHANA
2 Dec 2022
SOUTH KOREA 🇰🇷 x 🇵🇹 PORTUGAL