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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Millions take to streets
Millions of people packed Seoul's main squares
Millions of people packed Seoul's main squares
Millions of South Koreans are recovering after a nationwide celebration of their World Cup victory over Italy.

Police said more than three million people were on the streets of Seoul on Tuesday night - and no-one was arrested.

Koreans launched one of the biggest parties in the country's history following the co-hosts' 2-1 golden goal triumph, which takes them through to a quarter-final against Spain.

Hundreds of thousands of fans poured, screaming, through the capital after the winning goal.

President Kim Dae-jung had words of thanks for the players, coach Guus Hiddink, the fans and the police.

President Kim watched the match on TV at his presidential Blue House wearing a red scarf and hailed the historic victory, shouting "Long live the Republic of Korea!"

"I thank the coach Hiddink and the players for the excellent performance," he said in a statement.

"Also thanks to police officials and government officials who tried to keep safety and order."

Korean fans celebrate their win
There were no reports of unrest

Hiddink also got a surprise present from Korean Air - free first class travel for four years - for his team's performance. He has been showered with numerous gifts as the squad has progressed through the tournament.

There were few reports of trouble on the streets of the capital city and police told BBC Radio Five Live that no arrests had been made.

In one square in Seoul, hundreds of fans watching the match on a screen were reported to be so orderly that they remained sitting throughout the entire game so those at the back could see.

Few people were reported to be drinking to excess, drunk instead on the excitement.

But two fans, healthy men in their 20s, died of heart attacks during the match in Taejon.

One collapsed when South Korea equalised two minutes from the end of regulation time, police said.

The Korean media immersed itself in the team's success, with Hiddink widely hailed as a national hero.

"Hiddink troops have surprised the world and created new history", said the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

The second round win emulated North Korea's famous victory over the same opposition in 1966 - a result that still stands as one of the greatest World Cup upsets of all time.

"South Koreans have waited 40 years for their chance to emulate the North," said the Korean Times newspaper.

Striker Ahn Jung-hwan was the villain-turned-hero for Korea, scoring the winner in extra time after missing a first-half penalty.

"The God of soccer has provided a last chance for Ahn Jung-hwan," said the Chosun Ilbo Daily.

Police said there had been no trouble involving foreign fans.

"Foreign tourists staying in our country behaved really well and respected us," a spokesman added.


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BBC News' John Andrews
"Koreans know how to celebrate"
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