About

all posts by Roy Ghim [unless otherwise noted]. email: hitaegukwarrior@gmail.com

Twitter: twitter.com/taeguk_warrior

Taeguk Warriors is the nickname given to the South Korean National Football/Soccer team.

Taeguk, according to all things Wikipedia, represents the origin of everything in the universe; holding the two principles of yin and yang in perfect balance; blue= negative, red = positive. Swirling together, infinity in movement, and united as one. The Taeguk design was used by ancient Korean civilizations for different purposes, evolving into a symbol for Korean Taoism.

Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors was inspired partly by insanity -summers can be extremely hot in Maryland, this past summer of 2012 most definitely -but also a growing fascination with international soccer. The game is unique in our past century as a unifying international language. People can speak this common language despite enormous distances, lingual, cultural, and past differences.  It unites and occasionally divides (with horrific consequences), but ultimately bonds people across the world. I experienced it first hand in travels to rural Ghana as the 2006 World Cup was under way. In the village of Peki near the Togo border, jubilation erupted, people were animated by the word of mouth, and gunshots punctuated the air when Assamoah Gyan nailed the first shot in a 2-0 group stage victory over a heavily favored Czech Republic. People came out and handed me beers. It was pure magic. At night, drumming was loud and constant; despite it being 4 in the morning, I came to admire the endurance of the absolute joy Ghanians had in this victory. 

Soccer wasn’t on my radar growing up; if it didn’t appear on TV, it didn’t exist. Fast forward to 2002: I had been up all night cleaning and moving out of one apartment in Denver and ready to couch surf at a friend’s apartment, one era of my life ending – when I tuned into a World Cup game between South Korea and the United States.  It was dead of night, I think 2 am. This game caught my attention. I hadn’t really followed soccer and the sport here only gets attention every 4 years, like a presidential election cycle.

The rest of the tournament for me is a blur, but I do remember a sense of delirium each and every time Korea came on the pitch. In spite of overwhelming odds, they clawed deeper into the tournament where no other Korean or Asian team had been before. With last minute sudden death goals, breathless penalty kicks, and edge-of-your-seat performances, they wrote their way most improbably into football history. I lost my voice yelling and screaming and jumping up and down. It was sort of like a religious experience; there could’ve been snake handlers nearby -and I would have joined right in, abandoning caution and dancing with joy amongst the lunatics.  I had a renewed sense of something I really wasn’t in touch with previously, a growing awareness of a culture and pride in a tribe of people who had been marginalized by history. Yet there they were, survivors on the world stage. It was for me, transcendent.

The Tavern is not simply about reliving such moments. It’s a present state of being and it’s open to anyone, Koreans and non Koreans alike -such is the Tavern’s international zoning. There is a focus on Koreans playing soccer of course, but not exclusively, there’s fun to be had outside of it. Additionally, Korean players as a whole seems to be passed over by western media outlets. Blogging, when done right, can be a way to illuminate the areas that the western media establishment under-report. The Tavern has several spotlights in order to raise the profile of Korean players within an western English language context.

If there are any ulterior motives, it’s that in the process of running this Tavern/blog, I might be able to get closer to who I am by getting closer to my roots, I guess through blogging about Korean football. Doesn’t make sense to you?  Me neither -and it doesn’t matter, ’cause I’m doing this anyway.  So come by the Tavern and you might find me in the middle of a misadventure trying to learn the language, while simultaneously delivering bowls & dishes of news, rumors and exploits of Koreans at the highest levels of international soccer. Please be a part of all this -be a part of the conversation. The Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors can be a place to convene, discuss, analyze, wring hands, pound the table, watch the games together, express joy and regret, and hang out and drink –except that you can’t really drink here, no liquor license in cyberspace…yet.

Updates: The Tavern is pleased to introduce two new writers: Jinseok Yang and Jae Chee. They’ve got some amazing insights to Koreans playing at the highest level of football and the Tavern is very pleased to have them onboard.

EDIT by Tim: Heh, just so this page doesn’t get too outdated, we now have two new writers – Jeremy Paek and Tim Lee. You can find out more about our writers on the Who’s Who page.

EDIT EDIT by Tim: And we add to our roster of writers. Takeuchi and Evelyn Kim have joined the Tavern crew, now 7 strong.

16 Comments

  1. Thank you for your website! Now I do not have to google everything and get all my information right here. I thought I was the only crazy fan of Korean soccer and their international exposure, but your website and commentary are spot on!

  2. This is fantastic stuff.
    Have you considered having another section about upcoming Korean talents? I think there’s a lot to talk about. There is this very young kid in the Valencia youth ranks that leaves everyone’s mouths open, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.
    Keep up the good work.
    And BTW this sport is FOOTBALL!

    • Yes indeed – we are getting around to him…trouble has been news from his club has been sparse, so we have less on him (but quite a bit more on the Barca Koreans).

      And yes, I agree – it’s football, but quite a number of Tavern goers are in the US, so we have to use ‘soccer’ from time to time. Semantics, you know… 😉

  3. May I ask where you go and what sites you use to keep up with Koreans all around the world? Including youth and such?

    • Tavern secret. Just kidding, there’s a couple of different sites – largely depending on the player.

      The obvious answer is Korean media. News on Korean footballers, both domestic and abroad is, as you can well imagine, fairly timely. Though it can be somewhat prone to incorrect information – I don’t know if it’s an over-reliance and lack of vetting of European news sources. Koreans who do play abroad regularly in top flight obviously treated like rock stars in the Korean press.

      That said, as far as english language source articles on Korean players -the local press nearest the teams they play on can have some timely news. So we aggregate & analyze.

      I’ll be honest, the BSK forum has some of the best timely info for many english language articles relating to Koreans in football abroad.

      I haven’t been on the ROK forum a whole lot, but I can only guess that they also have similarly timely info.

      Lastly, some of the big media outlets, ESPN FC, NYT Goals (now morphed into NYT Soccer), Sports Illustrated – all these places will occasionally have some relevant info on the bigger name Korean stars -as it pertains to the teams and tournaments they are on.

      The end of the weekend roundups, I go to soccerway.com and ESPN FC to get some stats, playing minutes, and whatever other relevant info I can include.

      Hope that helped answer yr question.

  4. Hey, I am an avid football fan, especially Korean. This blog is really amazing. Just what I wanted haha! YOu should like my facebook page supporting the Korean national Football team as well and we can work together on this!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/%EB%8C%80%ED%95%9C%EB%AF%BC%EA%B5%AD-%EC%B6%95%EA%B5%AC-%EA%B5%AD%EA%B0%80%EB%8C%80%ED%91%9C-%EB%89%B4%EC%8A%A4/210882305592135

    4-2-3-1. whats your predicted line up for KOrea? Honestly I think Hong Myung bo should start using 4-1-4-1 cuz Ki is good enough to hold back as well as build up attacks. and btw do you speak korean?

    Mine:
    Kim Shin Wook

    Son Kim bo kyung Koo Ja Cheol Lee Chung Yong

    Ki

    Kim Jin Su Hong Jeong-Ho Kim young-Kwon Lee Yong

    Kim Seung Kyu

    • I’m sorry I haven’t replied earlier – predicted formation? 4-3-3 is a guess for the upcoming Mar 5 friendly with Greece – but I’m not 100% sure. I unfortunately don’t speak Korean – I got kicked out of Korean language school in 7th grade and at the time I thought I was bad ass. I sincerely regretted that since then (mein hamneeda sung-seng-nim!!!)

  5. Happened upon this site while searching for ‘lee seung woo’

    I totally feel ya about 2002 and getting into soccer (especially Korean)

    oh btw I’m from Texas but currently trying to be Gangnam style (I work and live in Gangnam now)

    – Edward

    • Hey, thanks for reading it! Although lots of the credit has to go to Roy for starting this incredible site. It’s so frickin’ awesome. Especially for ppl like me whose Hangul has… it’s limits.

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