Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dance craze backs South Korea's World Cup team

A formation dance pulled from a comedian's memory of his college freshman year is gaining immense popularity around the country. The comic dance, called kkokjijeom (literally meaning 'vertex' in Korean), was first introduced to the public on 31 January by actor Kim Soo-ro, a guest of popular KBS variety program "Sang Sang Plus". The public reaction to the group dance was explosive, which encouraged Kim to open a community-based website "World Cup 06 Kim Soo-ro's Summit Dance" to teach the dance movements. As of last Saturday, the website has over 97,000 registered members.

According to Lee Yong-sung in the Korea Herald, the nationwide popularity of the dance cannot be explained by its movements alone. "What went on in many viewers' minds, when they first saw the actor lead the formation dance on television, were the upcoming FIFA World Cup finals. "Cool, it's gonna be fun to perform the dance to cheer during the World Cup!" was the most dominant resposne to the dance, and Kim answered the urgent need by doing it again to "Oh, Pilseung (victory) Korea," the anthem which became popular during the Korea-Japan World Cup finals in 2002.

On March 1, more than 2,000 supporters of the Korea national soccer team gathered in front of the Seoul World Cup Stadium to cheer before the warm-up match against Angola. The same evening, K-pop stars such as Clone, Jewelry and NRG proved themselves to be kkokjijeom dancers with enthusiasm. "We shouted 'Korea' over and over with excitement during the last World Cup matches, which was great," said Kim, the webmaster of the Cyworld community. "But wouldn't it be even greater if all the crowd in red T-shirts dances together to cheer?"

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