This edition of top 5 is taking its cue from the beautiful game, which will be having a moment in this upcoming little known tournament sponsored by the Football Is Forever Always group. So in order to spread the word, this post will be dedicated to the times when futbol, putbol, chuggu, voetbal, bola sepak, and yes even soccer became apart of K-dramaland. Apologies to those who watch K-dramas to avoid watching the thirteenth repeat of a Bundesliga match highlight reel, but unlike 95% of Americans, I can’t get enough, so anytime I can share soccer and its culture I will partake! In fact, during a study abroad trip around Europe several years ago, my go-to small talk “in” was bringing up 2010 cup in South Africa, which did become a problem upon reaching the Netherlands and talking to the Dutch…
Besides the fact Europeans were shocked an American girl wanted to discuss the unfairness of Ghana’s heart wrenching loss to Uruguay (I’ll never forgive you Luis Suarez), it proved a great ice breaker. Which is also why if I suddenly dovetail into some soccer related story that snowballs into the last match of my high school career, just ignore. Sometimes you never know when soccer team nostalgia pangs will hit, and when they do, I’ll just remind myself of the good ole days..
Now onto the list!
5. Boys Over Flowers – Battle of F4
Ahh the F4 and their incessant competitions. Like the sun that rises from the East, such is similar reliability of an F4 flower boys tournament with events ranging from ice hockey, sports car enthusiasm, and hair fanning. Each have their place. That place is usually to gawk with pretty boy amusement or laugh at the ludicrousness of it all but that’s why we love you! With this specific soccer related bout, Jun-Pyo’s (Lee Min-Ho) jealousy get’s in the way of the footy fantasia. I’m mean they were probably just about to have water bottle fights with the shedding of shirts soon to follow. So why’d you have to be so aggressive Jun-Pyo? You probably just didn’t want your perfect curls to face the wrath of H2O. Ugh what could have been..
4. Secret Garden (Soccer tennis volleyball – Voccenis?)
In the early days of Secret Garden, Joo-Wan was dealing with his somehow inexplicable fascination with a girl that carries around a ripped bag. I mean it’s preposterous, how dare he associate with such trash, she pays monthly rent, the horrors. For some reason he can’t shake that Gil Rae-Im (Ha Ji-Won) feeling, so whats a chebol to-do? Show up in some
tacky fine-ass Italian duds to her place of work of course! And wouldn’t you know it on today’s docket is soccer tennis!
What follows is an amazing bout of anti-athleticism. Props to Hyun Binnie for really giving his character a lack of coordination I’m not sure even toddlers are capable of. In all honesty I love this scene, for one because its crazy hilarious and because I love me some soccer tennis! (especially when slightly intoxicated.) I wish such an activity were available for all companies break rooms. Ping-pong tables and coffee machines are overrated.
3. King to Hearts – Soccer cracks the code (SPOILERS)
Awe, I just love this scene. In the aftermath of king hyung’s death, Jae-Ha (Lee Seung-gi), is trying to open his brother’s password protected get-up. Just when all seems futile, he recalls this lovely bit of bro bonding. Bonding over what you may ask? of course a Korean soccer match, as nothing brings siblings together more than losing your sh*t over 22 beautiful male specimens performing acts of power, grace, agility, and wonders all for the sake of a spherical object. (Or is this just me..?) In any case, the hand clapping soccer chant does wonders for file opening, thus soccer is here to save the day one again!
2. Flower Boy Next Door – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (Real brotherly love)
Soccer references aplenty! Enrique (Si-Yoon), is shown to be a futbol fanatic, Supporting the likes of Barcelona (which I guess I’ll forgive him for), creating a video game entitled Zombie Soccer and providing some, interesting soccer-as-life metaphors.
“If something can’t be blocked then don’t try to block it, you can’t play soccer with just a goal keeper alone, its okay for you to ask help from other players.” Score.
My favorite bit of soccer integration comes from his confrontation with his rival in love and La Liga, Jin-Rak. Where upon close inspection of pants, discovers Jin-Rak likes his spanish futbol in the form of Real Madrid. And thus the frenemy-hood was born.
1. Answer Me, 1997 – World Cuples
The Japan-Korea World Cup qualifying match provides the backdrop for this episode, allowing for people’s emotions to get all worked into a tizzy, and on a day where the outcome provided delayed gratification, so to would several characters go through a similar process. Everything about this episode is perfection, from its bottle episode format, forcing people together in close quarters, to the lack of sustenance (hungry people are crazy people), to the artificial stress that comes from watching a big match. It’s the kinda of environment where even casual sport watchers can get way into some world cup atmosphere, often because of the individuals you find yourself surrounded with. Hopefully y’all take the opportunity to watch a game in a group/public atmosphere cause their really isn’t anything else like it. Plus you might just find your soulmate sitting next to you, screaming profanities at a television screen.
Honorable mentions: Capital Scandal and Master’s Sun
Capital Scandal featured an adorable scene with the two leads (above left) playing a quick game with some kiddos in Japanese occupied Korea…While the first episode of MS showcased a professional soccer player (Jin Yi-han) who is dealing with becoming the Korean Posh and Beckham while also having a spectral ex-girlfriend. Soccer ya’ll you can escape, might as well join the fray (but don’t join the band of a similar title. SO 2005)
Final football (fighting!) feelings
For those futbol anti-fans that stuck it out for the sake of drama, take solace in this factoid that ties everything together. “The term “fighting” originated just before the 2002 FIFA World Cup soccer games, hosted by both South Korea and Japan. It was used as a form of encouragement for the Korean 2002 World Cup Team to do the best of their abilities.
It originated from a now out-of-business cell phone company with the initials KTF. The company used the initials to say “Korea Team Fighting” for the 2002 World Cup Korean Soccer Team. It has since been shortened to ‘fighting.'”** I know right?!?, what would those words of encouragement, inspirational speeches, and impassioned declarations be without “fighting!” How would you end a conversation?? And most importantly think of the meme’s that wouldn’t exist in this world.
So thank you soccer, the world cup, and the Korean national team. I know I’m personally gonna give several fighting!’s your way in preparation for your first match, especially since you have already given Korea and by extension dramaland fans so much.. So much so that it seems essential that we give back through unwavering support and dedication to your team. (and not at all because Team USA’s sans Landon Donavon will never escape the group of death) Yay world cup! Yay for all your respective teams whom you’ll be cheering on, and let’s hope we have several occasions of our fictional dramalandians watching the world’s sport along with us. I mean the live-shoot has to be good for something right?
**This according to Yahoo Answers. East West Dramality is not legally responsible for any inaccuracies of, and partaking to the origins of “fighting!” Any further questions or concerns should be directed to this hotline: 1800-not-fighting. Operators are standing by, and will be glad to help you get back in that fighting! spirit.