Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Bronze Medal for 대한민국

Enough about nuclear annihilation for now.

I went to get my phone re-charged at the local KTF/Show phone shop tonight. As per usual, there was a customer in there before me who appeared to want to have every feature of every phone explained twice to him. My little 30 second phone recharging request would have to wait. Had this been Family Mart, the other guy had been a foreigner, and I had been an agitated Korean smoker looking to buy a pack of tumor tubes, I would have followed apparent protocol and just forced my way to the front of the line.

Instead, I watched the South Korean men's soccer team, down 3-1 against Iran in the Bronze medal final of the Asian Games in China (like our Pan-Am Games back home). I watched South Korea come within one, then the customer left, and the shop-keeper and I watched as the game went into extra time, Korea tied it up, and then they put the icing on the cake with a sweet, sweet, header.

The fans on TV went bananas, the shop-keeper and I high-fived wildly and appear to have developed a beautiful new friendship, and the Iranian fans in the stands wept with disbelief - probably because they are soccer fans, and because their country is ruled by a psychotic Jihad-bent dictator who stole an election, and then beat the shit out of his populace for sharing that fact with the world.

I was at South Korea's clinching World Cup qualifying game against Iran back in the late Spring of 2009. Same thing - it was a tie, but the home team came back, meaning that Iran would be denied a spot in the finals. After the game, many of the Iranian fans in attendance at Seoul World Cup Stadium held-up their green protest signs, asking "Where is my vote?" Never really got an answer. I was happy to have attended the game - my first international qualifier - and moved by the stoicism of the Iranian fans who used the moment to protest. Of course, not all Iranian fans there were in support of those protesting, so there were some heated exchanges. I took the photo below right before another Iranian ran down the stairs to confront one of the men with a green sign. Nothing much happened though as the area was surrounded by police that moved in after the final whistle.

Anyway, it was fun to watch the soccer game tonight and celebrate with a Korean who was proud of his team... then I went to Home Plus to buy supplies for the emergency kit the Canadian Embassy recommends we have on hand in case things get out of hand. As though it would do me any good at all. I can always use more peanut butter and trail mix though.

Earlier in the week, a North Korean stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a South Korean on the medal podium for women's archery. They were respectful and even spoke well of each other. Tonight - despite some flare-ups, both teams were respectful to each other as well. And yet it's all so odd - cold war on grass: Iran having almost certainly contributed nuclear technology to North Korea in recent months, the game being played on Chinese soil - the one country it seems that won't call the recent North Korean actions by their proper name, and the one country (besides Pakistan and Iran) that openly supplies with North with weapons.

I try, but I seem to slide-back with every step gained in an attempt to understand better the world I live in.

Sorry - looks like I couldn't really get past thoughts of war long enough to write a blog post. I'll try again tomorrow.

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