We toured 2 of the 2002 World Cup stadiums in Korea. We had the opportunity to watch the Suwon Blue Wings in their home opener while welcoming back a World Cup player. Kimber chose to share her story with you.
Suwon World Cup Stadium
So far during our time here in Korea we have toured multiple facilities, but in my opinion the best tour so far has been the 2002 World Cup Stadium in Suwon. From the outside it may look like just another stadium, but on the inside it is breath taking. This stadium was built specifically for the 2002 FIFA World Cup matches and is filled with vibrant colors that amaze the visitors. The seating within the stadium swirls from blue to green, then yellow to orange. The pitch is filled with perfect, deep green, striped grass that is highlighted by the multi-colored seating. Each tunnel within the stadium is filled with pictures or memorabilia from the 2002 World Cup games in order to forever remember Korea’s accomplishments from that year. Not only did Korea make it to the semifinals that year, but it also united as a country that had been striving and fighting for success. Although they did not win the World Cup, they did succeed as a country.
Upon arriving at the Suwon World Cup Stadium, I thought it would be just like the previous stadium we visited, which to me did not stand out very much. But, once I stepped foot in the doors of this stadium I quickly realized that this was nothing like the last World Cup Stadium we visited in Seoul. Maybe it was the gameday atmosphere or just the enthusiasm from the people who worked at the stadium, but either way, this stadium made me feel excited. Not everyone is able to get private tours of historical stadiums, but I, along with my fellow Cougs, were lucky enough to be some of the people who were lucky enough. Being able to walk around the halls of the stadium, through the museum, and into the players’ locker room was more than I could have wished for. I will admit that just over one year ago I did not care about soccer at all, but since then I have developed a passion for the sport. So, having the opportunity to kick the same soccer ball that the players practice with, along with being able walk onto the grass of the pitch, made me feel like a kid in a candy store. It was hard for me to contain my excitement. Not only did we get a tour of the whole facility, but we were also invited to watch a match between Suwon and Gangnam later that evening.
During the soccer match we were able to sit wherever we wanted. Right behind the Gangnam players’ bench, four rows up, we had the best view in the stadium. Not only did we get a front row view of the game, but we were also able to observe the fan section. Watching the Suwon fan section was like watching the Seattle Sounders fan section, but better. Each fan was wearing the team color (blue), and the fans in the front rows were waiving giant flags throughout the whole game. The greatest difference that I noticed was that the Suwon fans did not stop chanting or waiving the flag throughout the entirety of the game, no matter what. Although I had great front row seats behind the players, I wanted to experience what it was like to be in the fan section at this game. As I approached the fan section, I could feel the electricity coming from the crowd. No one was sitting; everyone was standing, jumping, and chanting for their team. Each time Suwon was about to score a goal the crowd would go wild. The passion emitting from each fan was intoxicating and made me love and appreciate this sport even more. I could only imagine what the atmosphere must have been like twelve years ago during one of the actual World Cup matches. This was the best day so far this summer, no contest. Getting a private tour of the stadium along with joining in on the excitement of the fan section was more than I could have asked for. Whether I was a soccer fan or not before this day, it was an experience of a lifetime that I will never be able to forget.