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During the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup, an official Korean cheering squad was formed called the “Red Devils.” They went to each game to cheer on the Korean team. I wasn’t an official Red Devil, but I became an unofficial one when the US gave up the third goal to Poland in what had to be their worst performance of the tournament. With less than thirty minutes left, I realized that the chances of our boys coming back was very slim, and the only way we were going through was if Korea (who were then cruising toward a 0-0 tie with Portugal) won their match.
I turned off the US-Poland match and focused all my attention on the Korea-Portugal match. Only a few minutes later Park Ji Sung scored an absolutely beautiful goal, and Korea went on to win the game, finishing first in the group—and guaranteeing the US a spot in the Round of 16.
So, the day after the final Group D matches I went out with my wife and we bought our Red Devil “uniforms”—red T-shirts and bandanas with the words “Be the Reds” emblazoned in white. I also insisted that we go out to City Hall for Korea’s next match (versus Italy) with a few hundred thousand of our closest friends. The pictures in this set (except for the last one) were taken before the match started, while we waited in the unforgiving sun.
As it turned out, though, it was all worthwhile. Italy took the lead with a goal in the 18th minute, and as time ran down in the second half I began to prepare myself for defeat. In the 88th minute, though, Seol Ki-Hyeun scored the equalizer, and the city center of Seoul erupted. When Ahn Jung-Hwan headed in the golden goal 28 minutes into extra time, my wife, myself, and the above-mentioned few hundred thousand close friends jumped around screaming and hugging each other. It was insane, and something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.