1983 World Youth Football Championship Semifinals Myth The
Korean national team participating in the 2023 FIFA (International Football Federation) U-20 (Under 20) World Cup held in Argentina on the 20th at the Paju NFC (National Team Training Center) It is in the process of final quenching. The goal is the round of 16. However, Korea won the runner-up in this tournament four years ago, and had reached the semifinals long before that. The achievements of seniors are a way to motivate younger players.
40 years ago, there was something that surprised the world about Korean football. The 4th World Youth Soccer Championship (now U-20 World Cup) was held in Mexico in June 1983. It is a legendary story that sprinted to the semifinals, receiving praise as ‘Red Devils’ (Red Furies at the time).
It was dramatic from the start. Originally, China and North Korea were knocked out of the Asia East Regional Preliminary. However, at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, North Korea was dissatisfied with the decision and assaulted the referee, and was banned from participating in international competitions for two years. Then, the opportunity returned to Korea, which came in 3rd place, and Korea won the right to participate through the final Asian qualifiers again. Now (only) under 20 years old, but at the time, it was under 19 years old. It was a real ‘youth’ competition. Korea is known as a strong player in Asia, but it is a ‘frog in the well’ that has never played in the World Cup since 1954. Such a country achieved the feat of winning the quarterfinals by beating the world’s strong players one after another.
The journey was ‘deja vu’ at the 2019 U-20 World Cup (runner-up in Korea). After conceding his first match (0-2 against Scotland in 1983 and 0-1 against Portugal in 2019), he has been on a winning streak. After a bloody battle against Uruguay, Shin Yeon-ho (59, then Korea University), the current Korea University coach, scored two goals and won 2-1 to advance to the semifinals. Shin Yeon-ho’s shot in extra time was also lucky to be deflected by the opponent’s defense. In the semifinals, they faced the strongest Brazil (winner of the tournament), played by Dunga and Bebeto, and even though Kim Jong-bu (58, former coach of Hebei FC, China) scored the opening goal, they lost 1-2 and unfortunately retreated. However, even the Mexican spectators of the home team, which lost to Korea in the preliminaries and failed in the quarterfinals, were fascinated by the fighting spirit of these young people from far away. Shin Yeon-ho said, “Mexicans surrounded our squad bus and cheered and came to the training ground and stadium. He untied the watch he was wearing and asked to ‘sign the clothes,’” he said.
As is well known, coach Park Jong-hwan (87, Seoul City Hall at the time) treated the players harshly. He wore a cotton mask and ran more than 20 laps of the 400m track when training in Korea, considering that the competition is held in the highlands of Mexico over 2000m above sea level. It was to prepare for the lack of oxygen. The mask was wet with sweat and his breathing became rough, but Park did not let go of the reins. Even if the achievement was not scientifically proven, it was enough to arm the players’ minds. He was also subject to strict discipline and corporal punishment. Lee Ki-geun (58, Hanyang University at the time), former coach of FC Lee Ki-geun, said, “I was scared just by looking at Coach Park’s eyes. It was an era when he did not even dare to step on the shadow of his teacher, so everyone silently followed the training.”
When he went to the field, he used a strong-and-on strategy. Even if he made a mistake, rather than get angry, he said he waited for me so that I could show my full potential. In the quarterfinals, Noh Noh (60, Korea University at the time) blew away the opportunity to take the first penalty kick, which was difficult to obtain in the first half. Originally, the kicker was Shin Yeon-ho, but Noh No-woo took the ball saying, “I will kick it.” Coach Park appeased the players’ appetites by finding vegetables locally and making kimchi stew and soybean paste stew. Then, when they lost 1-2 in the match for 3rd and 4th place, they took offense at Kim Poong-ju (59, Daewoo Royals at the time), who was the goalkeeper at the time. Lee Ki-geun said, “He kicked a water bottle and screamed. He was too scared just to look at him from the sidelines. At the time, there was a story that if we came in 3rd place, everyone would get an apartment of 30 pyeong in Gangnam, and I don’t know if that’s because of it,” he laughed. The viewership rating for the semifinal game against Brazil is about 83%. It is the highest among the Korean soccer viewership surveys that still remain (2nd place is 79% against Mexico in the 1998 World Cup in France).
The youth national soccer team players who returned home after winning the miracle of being in the top 4 of the soccer world were treated as heroes. In addition to the downtown car parade, which was common at the time, President Chun Doo-hwan, who was a ‘soccer fanatic’, invited the players to the Blue House and congratulated the players. From Gimpo International Airport to Gwanghwamun, players and coaches rode in groups of three and waved flags and balloons to hundreds of thousands of citizens blowing trumpets. The players recalled, “We had to go that far to Gwanghwamun, but the year was full of citizens.” President Jeon delivered 1 million won in encouragement money to all players in Geumilbong. President Jeon said, “Let’s achieve good results in future events such as the Olympics.” Shin Yeon-ho said, “(Aside from the president), the president of Korea University gave me a gold necklace and the governor of Jeonnam Province (former Minister of Transportation Kim Chang-sik at the time, Shin Yeon-ho’s hometown is Yeosu, Jeollanam-do) also gave me a gold daily wage, and I received a total of about 5 million won as a bonus.” It was a time when the monthly salary of a new employee at a large company was between 200,000 and 300,000 won.메이저놀이터
Years pass, and the tiger director, Park, is looking at Gu Soon. Now I am in a nursing home in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, and my juniors visit me once a month to have a simple conversation and eat. Families rarely come and go, and there are times when they don’t recognize people, so the disciples are troubled.
In 1983, there were 18 mythical protagonists in the semifinals. Shin Yeon-ho said, “Out of 18 people, only 2-3 people stay in touch. I’m worried about how I’m doing and whether I’m living a hard life.” Shin Yeon-ho and Kim Jong-bu, classmates of the class of 1983 at Korea University, received a lot of attention, but they did not see much light in the professional world. Kim Jong-bu stayed in China until last year, but recently returned to Korea. Among the 18 players, only Kim Jong-bu, Yoo Byeong-ok (59, 1986 Mexico), and Kim Pan-geun (57, 1994 USA) have stepped on the World Cup finals. Four of them could not even step on the professional stage, and many of them disappeared. It is said that only elementary and middle school students are taught in their hometown. Kim Pan-geun, who holds the record of being the youngest ever to participate in a men’s A-match (national team competition) (17 years, 241 days), immediately jumped into business after retiring in 2001, and is now known to be engaged in the construction industry. Lee Ki-geun said, “The members of the 2002 World Cup meet regularly and help each other, but each of us is busy with our own work so we couldn’t get together regularly. I hope the day will come when we can get together again.”