K-Advent Day 16 – Fan Chants
In recent years the action in the K-League stands has at times been as much the focal point of the after game, beer-inspired match reviews as the action on the field. Fan chants and the charismatic, or as can often be the case not-so-charismatic, ‘call leader’ whose role it is to whip his loyal followers into a singing frenzy have become a huge part of Korean football so much so in fact that elections are held annually at some clubs to select the most vocal ‘leader’. The concept seems to have it’s roots firmly in European and South American football and although few K-League grounds can serve up the intimidating atmosphere of a Galatasary or the colour of a Dortmund they do, for the most part, bring a much needed extra spice to match days. Over the years certain clubs have garnered a reputation for having some of the more imaginative chants in the league namely Seongnam, Seoul and Suwon who have vied away from the more traditional of chants to bring us such epic hits as Seongnam’s “It’s my girlfriend’s birthday but I’m at the football”, Seoul’s rather harsh but creative “you are a 3pt vending machine” put down and Suwon’s rabble-rousing if a tad repetitive ditty to the tune of “Yellow Submarine” which is accompanied by some equally repetitive lateral movement. K-League fans have often in the past been accused of a lack of ‘banter’ between opposing fans and instead seem to pride themselves on an ability to ‘get on’ with each other (well except these pesky Incheon fans) but there is one occasion where that seems to be checked at the door and that is when leading away from home against Ulsan Hyundai. Ulsan fans have a rather annoying song which they sing when winning, a song only too happily turned on them when they are not in the ascendancy.
It is of course needless to say that not all chants have impressed the discerning ears of the 48 Shades boys and there are one or two that make us cringe quicker than a warm Ball Beer. We shudder at the rather optimistic “Goal, Goal, Goal” at every corner or free-kick, we plug our ears at those chants which try to shoe-horn foreign player’s names into gaps which therefore require about ten extra syllables. But nothing and we mean nothing offends the ears and minds of a ‘hardcore’ football fan quite like that of “gwenchana” (it’s okay) immediately after your main striker has just fluffed yet another gilt-edged chance past the post. Now we are not saying that fans should resort to berating and abusing their own players but perhaps a little more dig from the masses would spur them on to ensure no further repeat of said sitter.
As in all football leagues the referee generally finds himself in the firing line at some point and Korea is no different. In stadiums up and down the country a rather meek “referee get a grip” can be heard resonating from the stands. Unfortunately this can be misunderstood by foreign fans as “the referee is a w$%^&r” mainly down to some rather similar sounding words with hugely contrasting meanings.
So if you enjoy your football with a dash of song then the K-League is the place for you although it should be noted that in order to fully appreciate the fervour and passion of the Korean ‘Ultra’ it is often necessary to situate oneself among or at least within spitting distance of them as you may otherwise think they have muted by some mystical remote control.