In Korea, every healthy man must serve two years in the military. Some of these men join a soccer league (K-League) as part of their military service. The city I now live in, Sangju, has a soccer team: the Sangju Phoenixes (상주 상무). The jersey color is red and white and game tickets are about $5. I have attended 5 games (4 home games and 1 away game) in April and May, and I will probably continue going until the season ends in the fall.
The stadiums don’t have the American idea of a concession stand. Instead, some people set up some shops outside in the parking lot, around the stadium. So my friends and I buy beer and snacks from a grocery store or convenience store along our way to/near the stadium, and then drink to our hearts content at the games. Fortunately, there’s no rule about bringing in your own snacks and refreshments. There is usually someone walking around selling hotdogs and hamburgers…but they’re not very good. The last game, someone was walking around the stands selling ice cream…that was good.
We usually cheer behind the 상주상무 supporters but at some distance. They have organized cheers and these high school boys bang on drums to keep the beat of some of the cheers. There is usually one or two people leading the chants on a megaphone. Sometimes we join in on these cheers, but sometimes we do our own. The English foreigners and the one Irish man have made up their own songs/chants for the game (for example one changes the words in the song “yellow submarine” by The Beatles) and we all cheer/sing them very loudly. One of the foreign guy’s Korean girlfriend works for the soccer team/K-league, and she said that they can hear us on the other side of the stadium. Of course our cheers have a healthy dose of profanity, but most of the Koreans can’t understand it anyway. We’re a loud, strong support even if there are sometimes only 7 of us, and the Korean supporters try to get us to sit closer to them. Usually, we kindly refuse.
The Soccer Team
As I said, we support the Sangju Pheonix team win, lose, or draw. Currently, they are 3rd in K-League. Although this sounds impressive, their playing ability is not. Many times, it’s more fun to cheer than to watch the game because their skills are equivalent to a high school team. It’s all in good fun though, and we all get excited when a goal is made.