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Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
The morning after
Korean celebrations after victory over Spain
The Korean party went on long into the night
BBC Sport Online's Stuart Roach

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Korea today woke up to the reality of seeing their national team reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

After another all-night party on the peninsular, the morning after the night before brought quiet.

In Gwangju, the scene of Saturday's quarter final triumph over Spain, Sunday morning heralded sore throats and fuzzy heads - and calm where there had been chaos.

Wave of emotion

From the moment captain Hong Myung Bo's shoot-out clinching penalty hit the back of the Spanish net, Korea exploded into another frantic World Cup party.

The wave of emotion on which the team and its supporters have been riding has been rolling for three weeks.

But with each victory, it peaks dramatically.

This country's economic growth has been built on the bedrock of a disciplined lifestyle.

Korean fans in heaven
Will they still be celebrating on Tuesday?

Naturally more aggressive than their Japanese co-hosts, Koreans have often found it hard to show their true emotions. When they have, the scenes have been ugly.

An estimated 1.4m protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the government in 1987, the height of the nation's struggle for democracy.

Fifteen years on, petrol bombs and wooden sticks have been replaced by Korean flags and trumpets.

There are no masked faces, only faces painted in the colours of South Korea. World Cup success has seen the stresses of a nation come pouring out.

Two more parties?

Exams have been postponed in most schools in the belief that the youth of the country cannot concentrate on anything but football right now.

Saturday's win means two more games - and two more parties - whatever happens in Tuesday's semi-final against Germany in Seoul.

Victory would secure the ultimate prize - a place in the World Cup final.

That would take the team away from Korea for the first time, with the final against Brazil or Turkey being played in Yokohama.

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This never before seen national unity has led to calls for Korean coach Guus Hiddink to be made president
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But out of sight would not be out of mind.

An estimated 4.2m people took to the streets for the game against Italy, more than 5m for the quarter final with Spain.

And every Korean resident is believed to have followed the team's progress in some capacity.

This never before seen national unity has led to calls for Korean coach Guus Hiddink to be made president of the country - the city of Daegu says it will erect a statue of Hiddink on a main boulevard.

They are tongue-in-cheek claims, of course.

But if the elections were this week, there would only be one winner.


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