Daejeon Citizen v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 17th July 2010, 7pm

It was about time that I got along to see Lee Dong Gook play for Jeonbuk again and as they were playing at Daejeon which is only an hour away from Seoul, I had the ideal opportunity. I’d been to Daejeon last month when I’d seen the National League side Daejeon Hydro and Nuclear clinch the first stage of their league and then I’d popped into the Hanwha Eagles baseball game with the Doosan Bears. This time though, it was going to be the top division stuff, in another of the 2002 World Cup stadiums. In fact, if you can remember, it was at Daejeon where South Korea knocked Italy out in the quarter finals.

The game didnt kick off until 7pm Saturday and I’d been wondering for a few days how best to fill my weekend. I quite fancied doing a bit of hiking in the hills around Daejeon and toyed with the idea of heading down there on the Friday evening or early Saturday morning and getting my miles in before the game rather than on the Sunday. However,  I’ve recently been seeing an American girl and on Friday evening we found ourselves at a dvd bang instead.

Bang means room. So, thats another Korean word I know. Perhaps the language is slowly beginning to sink in without me realising. I can now say hello, thank you, count as far as two and I know the word for a silver fish used in the context of taking the mickey out of someone wearing a shiny suit. Not bad for nearly five months. Anyway, the dvd bang. It’s another one of those popular Korean things that I doubt would really catch on in the UK. Its just like a video shop, except after selecting your film you dont take it home, you give it to the bloke behind the counter and then you watch it in a private room. It’s a bit like the Noraebang karaoke places but without the requirement to sing quite so many Celine Dion ballads. The dvd bang  tend to be a bit smarter as well, small rooms with a big screen, big settee and a big amount of embarrassment for your schoolteacher date when she bumps into a former pupil on the way in. Apparently these places have a bit of a reputation as being somewhere for courting couples to spend an hour or two alone. Of course, as a film buff I wouldnt know anything about that sort of thing.

Saturday morning and it was pouring down in Seoul.That was a bit disappointing as I’d been planning on going for a ride on my bike. I’m aware that this is starting to sound like the blog of a fifteen year old boy, but it’s an age thats not far below the surface in most of us. I’d walked alongside the Han River a few weeks back, saw the cyclists and thinking that it might be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon I’d been to a bike shop last Sunday and got myself sorted.

The bike shop was north of the river and it took me a while to get there on the subway from my apartment in the south. My plan was to cycle to the river on my new machine, ride alongside it for a while and then head back home after about an hours pleasant meandering around. It didn’t quite go to plan, as I got lost on the way to the river and found myself heading in the wrong direction on a dual carriageway. By the time I’d found the river I was starting to feel the pace a bit. I got a bit of a second wind though and had a very enjoyable ride alongside the other cyclists, hikers, old biddies playing bowls, old blokes working out on the gym equipment and families having picnics. I passed a couple of football games where I was tempted to pull over and see if I could join in and a cafe where I stopped for a drink. It was all going pretty well until I started to  pick up the pace a bit,  my chain slipped off and my momentum hurled me sideways off my bike onto the tarmac.

Ouch. As they say.

I’d taken the skin off my elbow and given myself a few scrapes on my legs and feet. What was odd though was that nobody stopped to see if I was okay. Whilst I sat on the ground there must have been another twenty or thirty cyclists who passed by and did nothing more than generously swerve around me rather than ride straight over the top of me. I set off again a few minutes later, leaving a mixture of skin and dignity on the tarmac and rode on for about another half an hour or so before realising that if I wanted to cross the river I’d have to turn back to a bridge I’d passed before my crash. So, after about three hours of pedalling and dripping blood I eventually got back to my apartment, a little more tired and battered than I’d intended to be. Still, I’m sure it’s doing me good.

With no bike riding on the Saturday due to the rain I set off for Daejeon on the KTX train mid-afternoon and less than an hour later I was there. Fortunately the rain had stopped within about twenty minutes of me leaving Seoul.The last time I’d been in Daejeon I’d stayed in a hotel in the south east of the city, close to the station and the baseball ground. This time I decided that I would be better off in the Yusong Spa area in the north west, close to the World Cup stadium and the hills where I was planning to hike the following day. Daejeon has a subway that consists of just a single line, bless them, and I used it to make my way up to Yusong Spa. There were plenty of motels in the area around the subway station, with names ranging from the Cosy Motel to the Rich Motel. I settled on one called the Luxury Motel.

 Luxury sounds better than Cosy or Rich, and besides, it had four lifesize horses above its door.

I paid the forty thousand won (about twenty two quid) and was given my key. No forms to fill in, no credit card swipe, it’s all very easy. My room was pretty good even if luxurious was pushing it slightly. It had a bed, which I mention just because not all Korean rooms do. In a lot of places you sleep on the floor which no matter how much of a spin you put on it is an experience that I’d struggle to describe as luxurious. As well as the bed I got air conditioning, a computer, a fridge, a water cooler and a big flat screen television. A big flat screen television that turned on as I inserted my key into the slot by the door and was tuned to a porn channel.

There wasnt much of a plot but the happy couple certainly seemed to get around a bit, managing to get their kit off and snatch a moment or two of fun everywhere from a field to a shop changing room. And all without bumping into former pupils too. It was getting on a bit though so after a while I thought I’d better leave them to it and get a taxi up to the stadium.

I got to the ground about an hour before kick off and bought a ticket for ten thousand won. It looked as if you could sit wherever you liked as the ticket didnt seem to specify a particular stand. With plenty of time in hand I joined a few fans sat outside a 7-Eleven convenience store and had  a beer whilst watching a line of people trying to win a vuvuzela by scoring a penalty past an inflatable goalkeeper. I was pleased to see that not many succeeded as whilst I enjoyed the novelty that the vuvuzelas brought to the World Cup I’d rather they didnt catch on elsewhere.

As kickoff approached I took my place in the North Stand with the Jeonbuk supporters. There were probably a few hundred of them there in a crowd that I’d estimate to be about five thousand. The stadium was well designed, with no running track and steep slopes to the stands ensuring that the fans were close to the pitch. I got a couple of Hite beers to see me through the first half as the teams came out and was pleased to see that Lee Dong Gook was back in the starting eleven after his two goals as a substitute the previous week.

Jeonbuk were in their usual luminous green shirts with Daejeon in maroon. Just before kick off the Jeonbuk fans unfurled a variety of home made banners that looked like they had been made after, or perhaps during, a particularly heavy drinking session. Quite a few of the Daejeon fans were playing those little cymbals alongside their songs and so sounded a bit like a group of Buddhist monks. Even so, it’s still better than the vuvuzelas.

Jeonbuk started the better of the two teams with Lee Dong Gook twice going close in the first quarter of an hour with a volley from the edge of the box and a close range header that was very well saved. The first goal wasn’t far away for Jeonbuk though as Tae-Uk Choi beat the Daejeon keeper at his near post. Ten minutes before half time Jeonbuk made it two as Lee Dong Gook and his fellow striker Krunoslav Lovrek broke clear. Lee Dong Gook drew the keeper and generously rolled the ball across an open goal for the Croatian to tap it into an empty net. The Jeonbuk fans chanted Lee Dong Gook’s name in recognition of his unselfishness.

The game was over just before half time as in another quick break Eninho added a third for Jeonbuk to finish Daejeon off. I got another couple of Hites for the second half and as darkness fell the Jeonbuk fans made the most of one of those days when it all goes right.

 Jeonbuk had a song which I’m sure was in English and appeared to consist mainly of the words,

“Don’t forget you’re shite, don’t forget you’re shite, don’t forget you’re shite, woah woh”

Aimed at the Daejeon fans as a bit of constructive criticism on the performance of their team it seemed to make perfect sense. But then, remembering the Korean tendency to pick up every piece of their litter before leaving I did wonder if they were actually reminding each other to tidy up after themselves before going home,

“Don’t forget your shite, don’t forget your shite, don’t forget your shite, woah woh”

Jeonbuk rounded off the day with a fourth goal, a long range shot from Luiz Henrique, fifteen minutes from the end. Lee Dong Gook had a few late chances, but despite the Jeonbuk crowd willing him on to get a goal it never quite fell right for him.

 At the final whistle I got the subway back to my hotel, the four horses above the door making it easier than normal to find it

Next day I got a taxi to Sutunggol and hiked up Bingyesan and Geumsubing. The first of those two peaks was 358 metres high and it took just over an hour walking through thick forest to reach it. In fact the forest was so dense that there wasn’t much of a view, even at the top.

 I had hoped that carrying on to the next peak, Geumsubong, which was listed at 532 metres, would mean a leisurely 150 metre stroll up a ridge. It didn’t. In a snakes and ladderesque disappointment there were a series of stairways downwards off the peak that meant ten minutes after being sat on the top of Bingyesan, I was down in the valley between the two hills with it all to do again.

An hour or so later I was at the top of Geumsubing sharing Makkeoli and food with three Korean lads I’d got talking to on the way up. Unusually, they werent kitted out for hiking as seems to be almost compulsory here, but were wearing quite smart shoes and trousers. Two of them were in the Korean Army and appeared to have just decided on a whim to have a quick jaunt up a couple of hills.

On the way down we stopped at a river where, as customary, everyone removed their footwear and cooled their feet down.

At the bottom of the hill we nipped into a restaurant for some duck and what was possibly the spiciest pepper I’d had since getting here. We had a couple of kettles of makkeoli and one of the lads went through a litre of soju in about half an hour. Thats the equivalent of drinking two thirds of a bottle of vodka with your tea.

It was still early and with the makkeoli kicking in we headed back into town in their pickup truck, fortunately not driven by the soju drinker. He did come close to falling out of the door a couple of times though. We rounded the afternoon off at a billiard club where, to my relief, they agreed to play pool or ‘pocketball’ as they call it here, rather than billiards on the tables without any pockets. After a pleasant hour or so, I got the train back up to Seoul where it had eventually stopped raining.

Jeonbuk’s win had kept them in sixth place, but narrowed the gap to top of the table Jeju United to three points. Next week Jeonbuk are away to Gangwon and I think I’ll pop along to that one too.

3 Responses to “Daejeon Citizen v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 17th July 2010, 7pm”

  1. Body Workout 101 Says:

    Daejeon Citizen v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 17th July 2010, 7pm…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Cogstar Says:

    That sounds like a top day out although I am getting a bit worried about all this exercise stuff. I’ve spent a month laying about at festivals drinking heavily with barely a hill thrown in for good measure. oh an good use of the word ‘snatch’ made me laugh

  3. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    I had to read it again before I found where I’d used ‘snatch. It wasnt a deliberate thing, it must just have been something on my mind. I dont seem to be getting any fitter, just more injured. I’ve still got a sore ankle from a game of football when I was home and the scab on my elbow doesnt seem to be shrinking much. Mind you, I went up a 1500m hill yesterday and that wasnt too difficult.

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