While many countries approach the Winter Olympics with a steadfast competitiveness and steely resolve, they may find loud encouragement from an unlikely source; a group of South Koreans who adopt a team to cheer for at the games.
The Korean Supporters Club boasts 100,000 people who are happy to loudly and passionately cheer for a nation that’s not their own. The incredible support begins at the airport. Every day when athletes were arriving, nearly 200 volunteers gathered at Seoul’s Incheon Airport to greet them.
For the games themselves, they will wave the flag of whatever country they’re cheering on, sing songs and chants in the native language of the athletes. Each member of the group buys their tickets themselves and they’ll be assigned a country to encourage for any event they attend.
The Korean Supporters Club hope to get between 100 to 120 volunteers to each event. They said they don’t expect any issues with the popular indoor events but these Olympics are forecast to be the coldest on records, with some outdoor events taking place in temperatures of 3˚F /-16˚C.
The club began for the 2002 World Cup which was hosted by Japan and South Korea. Founder Moon Sang Ju told the Star that he wanted to promote his country’s image and promote peaceful relations between countries. “The entire world is one family, even if we’re from different countries,” he said. “It’s just sports. It’s okay to support other countries and other athletes.”
The message takes on an added poignancy this year as the group say they will even cheer on North Korea, despite recent tensions and fears of conflict between the countries. North Korea have also sent a dedicated team of female ‘cheerleaders’ who will be supporting athletes from both North and South Korea.
Sports fans online have been commeding the heartwarming wholesomeness of the Korean fan activities, comparing it to the behaviour of some fans at the Rio Olympics where rival athletes were booed.