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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
World Cup diary: Korea
Korean football fever unites the old and the new in the capital Seoul
Korean football fever unites the old and the new

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Fans find religion

Football fans facing an accommodation crisis in Korea might be tempted to turn to Buddhism in an attempt to put a roof over their heads.

Temple Stay is a scheme which invites a remarkable clash of cultures, yet increasing numbers of fans here in Korea are taking up the offer.

Quite simply, Korean Buddhism is opening the doors of its temples and inviting fans to stay for a 24-hour period.

Fans can stay in Korean temples
Temples offer fans a place for meditation
It offers a unique insight into the everyday lives of practising monks in Korea and to the preservation of 1,700 years of history and tradition.

And fans who consider this the last resort can at least cling to the fact that there is plenty of chanting going on in the rooms.

No-one is expected to take a vow of silence at matches and all meals (strictly vegetarian) are provided.

Fans from Britain, USA, Poland and Spain have already enjoyed the history and hospitality the scheme provides.


A pampering for the press

The world's media, rest assured, are being well looked after in Seoul.

In welcoming reporters from around the globe to Seoul this week, Fifa's Keith Cooper described the city's media centre facilities as the best the world had ever seen.

"Not just at the World Cup, but at any worldwide sports event," he added.

He's got a point, with Seoul offering the journalist everything he could possibly need.

The World Cup media centre in Seoul
The media centre and hotel cater for every need
There are even free massages on offer, with locals working around the clock to keep the world's hacks loose.

Sadly for some journalists, they don't massage egos, but these are nevertheless highly-skilled masseuses.

The speed with which they work makes it feel as though someone has set fire to your clothes and is putting it out with their hands.

And, with shirts left strictly on, it's a good way of getting your ironing done!


World Cup fever on epidemic scale

Long-distance visitors to Seoul have arrived armed with every inoculation available to make their stay a healthy one.

But one thing you cannot immunise against is World Cup fever.

Right now, a collective holding of breath seems to be hovering over Seoul.

You can almost smell the anticipation in the sticky Korean air.

On every street corner flies a flag and every participating nation is represented.

Every shop is decorated with World Cup promotional material and every shopkeeper, restaurant owner and policeman is decorated with a smile that tells you Korea is proud to be co-hosting the 2002 tournament.

Even the temples in the hills overlooking Seoul have football decorations dotted among their usual colourful trimmings.


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