manufacturing koreanness through
transnational sport
A few days after I arrived to begin fieldwork, all of South Korea seemed
caught up in the frenzy of the 2002 fifa∞ World Cup. So many people were
wearing red T-shirts that televised views from news helicopters made the
thoroughfares of Seoul look like a network of arteries that pooled crimson at
massive digital screens. Throughout the month of June, I gathered with tens
of thousands of Koreans and watched digital projections of games in sta-
diums, on the street, and in bars. Traveling as part of the crowd, I was in
constant contact with other bodies, brushing by some and squeezing be-
tween others. The restless waiting was interrupted by kinetic cheers that
each began with a single tone—a tone that generated sonic ripples and waves
and quickly spread. Sometimes, stray cheers would develop into a unison
chant. At other moments, the sound seemed to swell and result in a single
loud boom.
Around each South Korea team match, I spent hours talking to compan-
ions and strangers about their feelings and thoughts on the events of the
month and the impact of those events on their lives. I found that this month-
long event was not primarily about sport per se; it was a great opportunity to
celebrate with millions of others under the aegis of supporting the nation. It
was a great chance for Koreans to attend the party of their lives, to brush up
next to warm bodies, to inhabit collective spaces, to express emotions pub-
licly, and to experience the intimate pleasures of mutual recognition.
After the Korean victory over Italy in the Round of Sixteen, I went to
launch fireworks over the Han River with women from our kosiwˇon (board-
ing house). As we drank soju and snacked on anju (drinking snacks), Chˇong
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