Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Half of South Korean Population Take Part in Street Cheering

Approximately one out of every two South Koreans took part in street cheering during the World Cup, a police tally released Monday said.


Approximately one out of every two South Koreans took part in street cheering during the World Cup, a police tally released Monday said.

According to police, a total 21.93 million people were estimated to have cheered on the national team during its seven matches over the past month, accounting for 47 percent of South Korea's 47 million population.

In the first match with Poland on June 4, more than 500,000 people, mostly clad in red--the color of the "Red Devil" support group-- gathered in front of large outdoor screens to root for the Korean squad.

For the June 10 match with the U.S., about 770,000 showed up, while for the match against Portugal on June 14, the number shot up to 2.79 million.

As Korea advanced further into the tournament, the number of supporters continued to snowball, creating great "seas of red" in major downtown districts across the country. A total 4.2 million took to the streets on June 18 when South Korea played Italy, 5 million for the Spain match on June 22 and a record 6.5 million for the Germany match on June 25. Saturday's consolation match against Turkey was watched on large screens by 2.17 million supporters nationwide.

During the entire World Cup period, the number of people who gathered in front of Seoul City Hall, Kwanghwamun intersection and other popular cheering venues in Seoul added up to a total of 10.48 million citizens -- equal to 88 percent of the city��s population.

People all over the world showed amazement at the enthusiastic yet orderly crowds which painted the streets red--the largest the nation had seen in its history.

About 2 million citizens took part in the March 1st Independence Movement in 1919 against Japanese colonial rule, while 1.4 million had taken to the streets during the pro-democracy movement in June 1987.

To prepare for any possible mishaps from the massive crowds, a record number of police units were also deployed during the past month, with more than 160,000 police officers mobilized at major cheering spots on days of Korea��s matches.

Although no major accidents were reported, the number of minor ones increased as the tournament progressed, There were 16 cases related to the Poland match, 40 for the Portugal match and 77 for the showdown with Italy, while the games with Spain, Germany and Turkey had 115, 67 and 142, respectively.

Patients suffering heart attacks also rose from a mere six during the U.S. match to 12 for the Portugal game, 60 for Italy, 213 for Spain, 238 for Germany and 213 for Turkey.

However, not one instance of rioting or other violence was reported during the period, as most football fans behaved in a peaceful and organized manner and even picked up litter after watching every match.

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