World Cup Miracle

Korea V Argentina

One of the dancers came up to our section to lead us in a cheer.

An unsuccessful attempt to get a picture up close of one of the male dancers. He was quite manly in his bedazzled matador outfit, complete with light up reindeer horns.

The only part of the stadium that wasn’t standing room only was the part roped off just under the jumbotron. The rest of the stadium was packed, as you can tell from the fore- and background of this picture. This is also pretty much the last picture that isn’t terribly blurry, uninteresting, or a repetition of already posted.

Wolmido

A statue of traditional Korean wedding dress.

Wolmi Park was full of these little things. They’re basically miniature recreations of historical or strikingly beautiful monuments around Korea, that are collected in one place. The photo is the place that the Wolmi recreation is modeled after. They did a pretty good job.

Little buildings and big ponds are kind of Korea’s thing.

Esther: Do you know what those gazebos (structure on left) are for?
Me: Not really.
Esther: Well, sometimes the fields would have watermelons, so people had to watch them…
Me: Oh, because of birds and stuff?
Esther: Hah, yeah birds, but also sometimes people.

Watermelon crime is popular in Korea.

Last night was America’s World Cup game against Algeria. I went to the Banana Bar around 8:30 PM. I shot a lot of pool. Some with James, some by myself. The game started at 11 PM local time, and I stayed for it all. I would’ve kicked myself if I hadn’t. Algeria’s only true threat came in the seventh minute. Two American defenders misplayed a ball, which came down to an Algerian player. Chested it down beautifully, then tired an absolute laser that blasted the crossbar. After that Algeria played quite hard on defense, but their offense lacked any real teeth.

America, in contrast, played quite well. Well enough to have two perfectly legal goals disallowed for non-existent offside penalties. The way the game was going, with as many good opportunities as we had, I felt like it was only a matter of time before we scored. Algeria seemed nearly content to play it out to a 0-0 draw. I would’ve rather outright lost than played to a 0-0 draw. There’s no pride in a 0-0 draw that advances neither team.

However, the longer the game went on, the longer the Americans went without scoring. Indeed, it seemed like fate was working against them. A combination of fine goalkeeping, sloppy execution in the box, bad refereeing, and plain old bad luck was keeping the US team from hitting the back of the net. Full time was reached, with four minutes of injury time left. The American players were visibly desperate the last 20 minutes of regulation, and it only doubled in extra time. Fortunately, persistence pays off. After 92 minutes of hammering away at the Algerian defense, Jozy Altidore screamed up the right flank, beating his defender and bringing three more Americans with him. His shot was punched lamely away by the Algerian keeper. As the ball failed to clear the box, Landon Donovan ran up for the tap into the open net and the glory goal.

I have to set, I went as crazy as being the only American in a bar with three people in could allow. All tournament, the American games have consistently been the most entertaining, memorable games. For all their hard work, they’ve earned the top stop in Group C, and are destined to face Group D runners-up, Ghana on Saturday.  This is also the night Korea plays Uruguay. I may be mistaken, but in the event Korea beats Uruguay and America wins, they’d be headed for a clash against each other. An interesting game indeed.

After the game, I was pretty stoked. I went to catch a cab ride home, which immediately ruined my mood. I got in and asked him to go to Buldang Elementary (in Korean) and he just looked at me like I was retarded. I said it over and over and he kept repeating it over and over, like I was speaking Greek. He even called someone, who apparently had as little idea. I contemplated getting out of the cab to find another, but I just told him to go straight and guided him the entire way to my apartment. When we stopped, he seemed to suddenly understand, and gave me a lecture on pronunciation, which really pissed me off.

I understand my pronunciation is far from native, but the difference between Buldang and Bulddang is so goddamn minimal, that it’s hard to believe that it was hardly the cause of the confusion. I honestly think he was giving me a hard time just for being foreign. I get the same thing a lot at the bus station. I’ll ask for Bucheon, and they either give me a ticket for Busan, or have to check several times that I really mean Bucheon. I really hate having to repeat myself. Koreans from the language group say my pronunciation is pretty impressive, so I don’t know what these people’s deals are.

In other news, I had a huge weekend planned, but it’s falling apart piece by piece. I have literally nothing left to do anymore except watch the World Cup games. Not that that’s bad. Just not at all what I had planned.

Had a meeting today at work. Just covered all the stuff around the period we get for vacation (July 26th-Aug. 3), the English camp, all the extra work we have to do, and how we need to improve as teachers. I won’t pretend to be perfect, but when my boss tells me to do a different thing every day, often conflicting with things he’d told me previously, it’s hard to take his criticism to heart. I gave up really on trying to figure out what he wants a long time ago, and just started doing the best I can figure out how to do them. The best news of the day was that they’re considering cutting the class time from an hour to a more conventional 45 or 50 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a huge change. Tons of days I just run out of shit to do for the last 10-15 minutes of class.

On the docket for Friday: not much. Probably Banana Bar for pool. Saturday during the day, I may go to Songtan to buy a hookah. It’s something I’ve definitely missed. I’ve had it two or three times since I’ve been here, and it’s about the same price as at home, but it’s just much more inconvenient. Especially after growing accustomed to just going to a friend’s to smoke. I’m trying to decide if I should take a Korean with me to buy it, or not.

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