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Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

Last weekend, the Jeonju United Football Club hosted their annual dinner and award ceremony in an upstairs room in T.G.I. Fridays. The boys put on their Sunday best (WAGS too) and everyone toasted the players with the most as the certificates and trophies were handed out.

The formal evening began brilliantly with a phenomenally discounted meal, complete with plenty of beer, wine and wineade (which tasted like a Shirley Temple to me). Evan dressed to the nines in a shirt and tie, while I donned a black dress, shiny sparkling tights and ankle boots. I worried about braving the weather for hours beforehand, considering it got down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit outside… and I was wearing a DRESS! AHHHHH! Luckily we had a few drinks at the Beer Cave before dinner, where Rachel and I convinced everyone to take a cab, even though the restaurant is in our neighborhood.

Dinner was fabulous, except we ran into a group of our kindergarteners — one of which was celebrating her 8th (7th in American age) birthday. The children followed us around like puppies for awhile, bringing balloons to our table, charming our friends and asking for sips of mekchu (eek!). I obviously forbade it, telling them that it was “grown-up juice” until the birthday girl whispered loudly about it being beer. Still hoping that one doesn’t somehow bite me in the ass down the road.

After the ribs were picked clean and everyone’s cheeks flushed with the rise in our BAC, it was into cabs and onto Japanese soju, were we ordered pitchers of fruity cocktails and gossiped at multiple long tables chock full of foreigners and friends. The volume of our conversations increased with every strawberry and kiwi soju we put down, but the population in the University hot spot didn’t even notice. Our noisy mass fit right in :)

Finally, it was time to DANCE! The football lads and ladies made our way to M2, the favorite new spot for sick spinners, chic locals and disco lights until the wee hours of the morning.

Evan loves to throw down some hyphy moves on the floor with his pals — especially kitty cat Theo down there. One of his little-known and under-appreciated talents.

Inevitably, the dancing led to a high kick off, with bunches of alcohol-fueled friends tried to kick higher than each other, throwing up our feet to the beats.

I probably flashed a few innocent bystanders in the process, but I believe my kicks were high enough to deserve a shout out (from myself… whateva). It was another awesome night with awesome people that we paid dearly for the next day :)

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This weekend, Evan and I packed up our bags and headed out of Jeonju, all the way to Ulsan for the biggest waygook (foreigner) soccer tournament in Korea.

The cup featured 16 different teams from around the country poised to show off their football skills over the course of two days.

The trip to Ulsan isn’t a short one, so we opted not to spend the money on a hotel room Friday night and go down early Saturday morning instead. After a filling dinner from Aladdin’s Lamb and minimal sleep, we raced out the door to meet up with our carpool buddies at 5:30 AM.

From Jeonju, we took a cab to the Iksan Train Station, where we caught a train to Daejeon. Then, we hustled from that train station to the other train station in Daejeon, just in time to catch the KTX bullet train to Ulsan. When we finally arrived to our destination, we got aboard a shuttle bus and went directly to the field, where the boys were playing in 10 minutes. They changed on the shuttle there — it was pretty nutty!

Once at the field, it was relaxation time. I joined the group of supporters and spent the afternoon sunning, eating hot dogs, drinking beer and trying my hand at cheerleading, lead by our fabulous head cheerleader, Elizabeth (a fellow Long Beach lady, the most awesome of kinds).

We actually had quite the time there on the sidelines, laughing and twirling signs, waving flags and generally being bad ass supporters. There wasn’t a better group of gals I could have spent the weekend with.

The “We love you Jeonju, we do” cheer (sang to the tune of We Love You Conrad from Bye-Bye Birdie) was my particular favorite. That and “Shot! Shot! Shot, shot, shot, shot, shot!”

I even managed to do a couple of cartwheels and (almost) land them.

Well, almost land some of them. Not this one (obviously).

After the end of day one, the boys had scored second in their group (lost by goal deferential) and were ready for a shower and the free buffet that awaited us. Little did we know, the Hotel Taehwa had other plans — and by other plans, I mean they had lost Jeonju’s reservation! Wah wah.

Luckily, love motels littered the streets and alleys surrounding the hotel, so we got set up in new digs relatively quickly.

After that, it was straight to the free buffet, where I literally stuffed my face full of Korean food and free soju and makgeolli. The only beverages that cost money were soda and beer, but Ho worked his magic and got those for free too. By the time I was stuffed like a giant bird on Turkey Day, my eyes literally could not stay open.

Off to bed we went, getting a whopping 9 hours of shut-eye before the big day ahead of us — pretty impressive.

Morning: a quick shower and trip to Paris Baguette for a cheese bagel and coffee (nom nom nom), then it was off to the pitches for the quarter finals. They played at a different field the second day, and us supporters were delighted to find a few marts along the road nearby to pick up snacks and beer.

Oh, and we got super awesome sweatshirts too… only 8,00 won!

It was pretty much beer o’clock when we got there.

Fast forward two games later, to the finals, where the men still haven’t conceded one goal in the entire tourney. We were whooping and hollering at the sidelines (we even recruited a guy from another team to wave a flag) making the other team sad and jealous while their tiny group of girlfriends scowled and rolled their eyes at us, as if they were above cheering for their boyfriends. Stupid. Don’t hate us cuz you ain’t us!

At one point, a few Koreans on horseback came around and asked if we wanted to go for a ride — I had my boots on anyway! It was perfect! We ran after them, then got confused when they put sashes on us and gave us trash bags. Consensus ended up being that they 1) wanted us to pick up trash while walking with the horses or 2) wanted us to pick up horse crap. Either way we ditched them, but it was weird!

Unsurprisingly, Jeonju Unathletic FC ended up killing it in the final game, never giving up a goal the entire weekend and mowing the field with every team they played. The boys went home with a gigantic trophy and 500,000 won. It was a weekend full of cheer, excitement and all the good things in life (including a cinnamon/sugar pastry thing we got on the street en route back to the train station — very delish). Well done, gents!

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After spending the day at Riverstock, Evan and I took a lengthy nap until 10 PM, when we headed out to meet Smiley for some fried chicken before the Korea game at 11.

We threw on our pro-America gear and headed out onto the balmy street. Dark clouds threatened rain, but the streets were full of people in their red jerseys and devil horns anyway, buzzing with excitement. We headed over to Bozzang Chicken, a place we hadn’t tried but heard good things about. We started the night off with a huge pitcher of beer (kind of by accident, it was much bigger than we thought) and some anju!

The plate of chicken that came next was delicious — crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside and served with a chili dipping sauce. It was a definite repeat when we’re in the mood for some fried comfort food! Since it was the big night of both the Korea and America games, Evan decided to get Smiley in the mood by Icing him. He kept the beverage nestled in his corner of the booth until it was nice and warm, and the chicken was gone. Then BAM!

Smiley took it like a champ after our cab ride to Junghwasan-Dong, where we were going to watch the games at Radio Star. I brought along my playing cards for the downtime between the two games. Playing cards here are about $15! I’m so glad I brought some from home, they’re like gold.

This game, we were ready with red, white and blue apparel. Evan received a 1994 USA jersey in the mail from the Naylons, and I wore my Obama/Biden shirt that I completely forgot about last time. I also took Smiley’s Kanye-style glasses, because he was rocking Evan’s USA cap.

When we got to Radio Star, the Korea game was in full swing and the place was hopping — we had to stand in the back and watch Korea get beat by Uruguay. Sad for all the devil fans in the joint, but at least the place cleared out after the game, and we were able to nab seats during the hour-and-a-half wait until the USA game.

Our friend Dave from Canada even had his guitar, and helped the time pass with a little music!

Despite our happy faces and high hopes for the home country, America performed terribly and lost to Ghana, a game that they could have won. Not even Donovan had his game face on! I rallied like a rockstar, passing out for only some of the second half with my head on the table. We left the bar around 6:30 AM, feeling defeated as the sun began to peek out in the Jeonju sky.

Oh well — at least I don’t have to stay up until 7 AM again! Plus, the next World Cup is in Brazil and since Evan and I will be attending (oh yes, we will) America can just win it all then.

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Well technically it is soccer fever since I’m an American, but the title alliteration was too much to resist :)

This weekend marked the beginning of the World Cup — and everyone in Korea is feeling the fever! For weeks now, people have been sporting red Korea jerseys, and red t-shirts cheering on their home team. Restaurants promote soccer-themed products, and many establishments have set up big screens and projectors and opened their doors to people looking to watch the games.

Thanks to the time change, the World Cup games air here at 8:30 PM (doable) 11:00 PM (doable) and 3:30 AM (kill me).

Festivities kicked off Friday night at 11:00, when South Africa took on Mexico. Naturally — since Evan told me Mexico was one of USA’s biggest rivals — I cheered on South Africa from our table at Radio Star, a bar that was hosting all of the games on a 120″ projection screen.

Entrance to all of the games cost 10,000 W (around $9 on a good day for the dollar), and it guarantees you 2,000 W draft beers all night! So that’s where we got our soccer fix.

Between the games, the projection screen is lifted and local bands put on a show. What a delight to hear live music again! I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until I was rocking out to a Raconteurs cover performed by this Jeonju trio:

Our night ended when the game ended in a draw, 1:1. We headed home and started to prepare for night 2 — when South Korea played their first game, and the USA took on England at 3:30 AM! On Saturday morning, Evan and I walked all over Jeonju, looking in clothing shops everywhere for some pro-America gear. No luck. Fortunately, I had a blue v-neck that would do the trick, and Evan borrowed a red, white and blue polo shirt from Smiley, who was rocking his own jersey for his soccer team over here.

The three of us gobbled down some sam gipsal before meeting up with one of Smiley’s Korean buddies and his friends at a bar near Radio Star. We grabbed seats on the patio and watched the game from there — it was so exciting to be with so many Koreans when their team dominated Greece!

It beagn to rain so we were forced to move to Radio Star — but the fans were in there too, wearing their red jerseys and devil horns, cheering on their home team.

After Korea won 2:0, a band wearing lots of patriotic paraphernalia took the stage and rocked out.

During the next game, Argentina beat Nigeria 1:0, and we decided it was time that we could really start drinking, since we had some time to kill before the USA v. England game. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and patriotic intentions, I had to leave at 2:00 AM. What can I say? I’m not a night person, and I knew Evan and Smiley would hold down the fort and reporesent against the hordes of Englishmen and women who had clamored into the bar. Smiley even had some sweet USA Kanye West-style glasses.

Evan got home around 6:30 AM and told me, very excited, that USA and England had tied! We considered the draw a huge victory, seeing as England ususally annihilates America.

We’ve watched a few games this week — can’t wait for the next Korea game on Thursday, and USA game on Friday!

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After a weekend of sleeping and taking cold medication, I was ready to venture out into the world on Sunday for a Jeonbuk soccer game.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors is Jeonju’s soccer team. The team, who were the 2009 champs, play at their world cup stadium clad in electric green jerseys — and both games we have been to so far have been super fun. We threw on our team jerseys, grabbed a six-pack of Hite, and headed to the stadium.

Evan also grabbed a bottle of soju, which he took down easily with the help of grape soda.

The stadium itself is gorgeous. It has a really interesting shape, and convenient amenities directly outside. They have a small convenience store where you can buy food and drinks to bring into the game (dried squid is a favorite — ew), and even a wedding chapel for the real die-hard fans. Ole!

Jeonbuk were facing off against a team who hung a large sign that said “Born to be Yellowz” (?), from another part of Korea. As a westerner, I think it’s an interesting color choice/name for the sign, but we moved right past that.

We got excellent seats on the East side of the field, cracked open our cold ones, and watched the battle begin.

The former championship team are not looking so hot this season, but this particular game was a good one. Unfortunately for me, the team had their best shots on goal — and their only goal — when I was out of the seat. Therefore, I was dubbed the bad luck charm.

Every game, there is a sea of green fans sitting to the North. Next time, we’ll sit with them!

Oh — for as much as they do NOT like the sun here, I rarely see people wearing sunglasses. They usually stick to baseball caps, visors, parasols or actual umbrellas. This guy got creative — he made his sun protection out of a newspaper!

During halftime, Smiley and Evan joined some local boys in a pickup game of their own.

Gooooooooooaaaaaalllllllllllll!!!!!

The real game ended in a tie, 1-1. As we headed toward the street, we saw a group of people dancing and cheering for a candidate in the upcoming election, taking place on Wednesday. For weeks, we’ve seen people shouting praise, singing and dancing next to these huge platforms with politicians faces on them. One politician was at the game, and asked Kristie and I to take a picture with him! I hope I didn’t put myself in any facist propaganda :P

Anyway, Evan and Smiley decided to jump in with the trained dancers to help support their cause.

The Koreans embraced it!

After the game, we hailed cabs to Chonbukdae, gobbled down some dak galbi for dinner, then headed home for an early night’s sleep.

Since Wednesday is Election Day, it is a national holiday — woo hoo for 4-day weeks!

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