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Jeju United, Jeju, South Korea

25 July 2008 No Comment

Jeju UnitedIt’s a cold, wet, midweek April night at the Jeju World Cup Stadium. The home faithful have turned out in droves to see the big cup game against Pusan. Despite their wild enthusiasm, the Jeju fans (known as Insane Islanders) have yet to see a home victory this year. In fact they have yet to see a home goal. Jeju once again in this match goes one goal down, but like the great fans that they are, the supporters keep on cheering, never giving up hope. And then, in the final minute, Jeju United delivers what everyone has long been waiting for – a goal.

Everyone goes wild, there is kissing, hugging, screaming – everyone in some way expressing their pent-up rage caused by the disappointing start to the season. In that moment it feels like life can’t get any better. Jeju United has finally scored and everyone is in ecstacy. Then disaster strikes – the linesman has raised his flag for offside. The goal has been disallowed. Jeju United loses, and the Insane Islanders have to endure another sad and lonely walk home.

The team on the field

As an Insane Islander myself, I was devastated by the cruel nature of this defeat. I began to wonder if Jeju was to become the laughing stock of Korean football. Yet I write this article at the half-way point of the season and things are looking promising – the team has started winning. The defence has begun to look solid, the team’s movement has improved, and star players Homulo and Cho Jin Su have really begun to look like formidable opposition. We also have our lethal man on the bench – the unsung hero of Jeju, the orange boot wearing Shin Pyeong Ho. More than once he has come on to the pitch and changed the game – most notably in the away match at Daegu, which we went on to win 4-2. This win was followed a week later by our first home win – a superb 3-1 victory over Gwangju Sangmu Phoenix.

As unbelievable as this may have sounded in April, Jeju now is just 4 points off a play-off position and is looking to qualify for the semifinals of the League Cup. Both of these targets are realistic if the side gets the support they need.

Watching a game

Going to a Jeju United match is one of the must do activities for both residents and visitors to Jeju. Standing behind the goal, you can savour the atmosphere created by the drumming, the singing and the flares. The games, whilst not being played at the same level of skill as the English Premier League, are jam-packed with tension and excitement. You can even be accepted by the Jeju natives as an Insane Islander. Indeed, Jeju United is like a small community in its own right bringing Korean locals and foreign residents together. I hope more of the Jeju Life readership will join us.

Games are played at the World Cup Stadium in Shin-Seogwipo, next to E-Mart. For Jeju City residents, the Seogwipo bound buses, which pick up at the Bus Terminal and Halla Hospital, stop directly outside of the stadium. Admission is 7,000 won and, even if you’re not a football fanatic, you can enjoy 2,000 won beer on the terraces. The fixture list is available on the Jeju Life website.

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