South Korea's World Cup odyssey finally ended as Germany outfought the co-hosts in an absorbing semi-final victory in Seoul.
The hopes of an entire nation were crushed when a second-half strike by Michael Ballack condemned Guus Hiddink's men to defeat.
Ballack rejoiced but his celebrations were tempered by the fact that he will not play in the final after picking up a booking.
An estimated 7m Koreans watched their heroes make their exit and the Korean players can feel proud of having gone so far in what has been a sensational World Cup campaign.
Korea exceeded all expectations by becoming the first ever Asian nation to reach the last four of the competition.
But they came unstuck against seasoned World Cup campaigners Germany, who have also surprised many to make it to their seventh final against either Brazil or Turkey, who meet in the second semi-final on Wednesday.
Germany have won their last three games 1-0 as they have edged unspectacularly into the final of the most open World Cup of recent years.
But German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - who plans to attend the final on Sunday - shrugged aside suggestions that the team had been fortunate, when he offered words of praise for their efforts.
"This time we did not win with luck," he said. "We absolutely deserve this victory."
As Korea's supporters came to terms with the end of their unexpected World Cup adventure, President Kim Dae-jung led the tributes to the team of giantkillers.
"I wished for victory, but we had a good fight tonight," he said after watching the game at Seoul's World Cup Stadium.
"The players and head coach Guus Hiddink are our heroes."
Germany started like a team that knew the terrain well. It was their 10th semi-final appearance and it showed.
Despite having to endure the jeers of a 60,000-strong partisan crowd, Germany launched the first foray into the Korean half.
Defender Carsten Ramelow, who was selected ahead of Sebastian Kehl, showed his penchant for pushing forward and fired in a low shot straight at Lee Woon-Jae.
But the expected red tidal wave of attacks soon ensued as Korea broke at speed.
Cha Doo-Ri, born in Germany and the son of South Korea's most famed striker Cha Bum-Kun, posed a threat with his electrifying pace.
Bode posed a threat to Korea
His alacrity allied to the experience of veteran striker Hwang Sun-Hong troubled the German rearguard.
Indeed, Cha Doo-Ri created the Koreans' best chance of the half when his ball from the right found Lee Chun-Soo, whose first-time shot was quite magnificently palmed away by Oliver Kahn.
Kahn's superlative save further confirmed his reputation as the tournament's best goalkeeper.
Sensing that they had weathered the early storm, Germany set about peppering the Korean goal with crosses in an attempt to expose their opponents' supposed aerial deficiencies.
Miroslav Klose and Marco Bode were the target men, and both went close to breaking the deadlock but were thwarted by some resilient Korean defending, in particular by Song Chong-Gug.
We can be very proud of the boys and what they did, not just
tonight, but especially in the long run at the tournament
South Korea coach Guus Hiddink
Germany may not be the powerhouse they once were, yet their big-match experience began to show and they ended the first half in the ascendancy.
In keeping with his attack-minded tactics, Hiddink brought on Ahn Jung-Hwan for Hwang Sun-Hong and Lee Min-Sung for Choi Jin-Chul after the interval.
But they could not unlock a resolute German defence. Lee Chun-Soo tried in the 70th minute when he skipped past several defenders only to be hacked down by Ballack.
The German playmaker was cautioned but held his nerve despite knowing that he would miss the final if his side went through.
Ballack then ironically scored Germany's winner with 15 minutes remaining, firing past Lee Woon-Jae at the second attempt and ended Korea's World Cup adventure.
Germany: Oliver Kahn (capt), Thomas Linke, Christoph Metzelder,
Torsten Frings, Carsten Ramelow, Dietmar Hamann, Michael Ballack,
Bernd Schneider (Jens Jeremies 85), Miroslav Klose (Oliver Bierhoff 70), Oliver Neuville (Gerald Asamoah 87), Marco Bode.
Subs Not Used: Frank Baumann, Jorg Bohme, Hans-Jorg Butt, Carsten Jancker, Sebastian Kehl, Jens Lehmann, Marko Rehmer, Lars Ricken, Christian Ziege.
Booked: Ballack, Neuville.
Goal: Ballack 75.
South Korea: Lee Woon-Jae, Choi Jin-Cheul (Lee Min-Sung 56), Yoo Sang-Chul, Kim
Tae-Young, Lee Chun-Soo, Lee Young-Pyo, Hong Myung-Bo (Seol Ki-Hyeon 81), Hwang
Sun-Hong (Ahn Jung-Hwan 54), Park Ji-Sung, Song Chong-Gug, Cha Du-Ri.
Subs Not Used: Choi En-Sung, Choi Sung-Young, Choi Tae-Uk, Choi Yong-Soo, Hyun Young-Min, Kim Byung-Ji, Kim Nam-Il, Lee Eul-Young, Yoon Jong-Hwan.
Booked: Lee Min-Sung.
Referee: Urs Meier (Swi).
OFFICIAL MATCH STATS |
| Germany | S Korea |
Goals | 1 | 0 |
Shots on goal | 16 | 6 |
Shots on target | 6 | 3 |
Fouls committed | 12 | 19 |
Corner kicks | 8 | 6 |
Penalty kicks | 0 | 0 |
Caught offside | 0 | 2 |
Own goals | 0 | 0 |
Yellow cards | 2 | 1 |
Red cards | 0 | 0 |
Ball possession (%) | 50 | 50 |
ACTUAL PLAYING TIME | |
First half - 27 mins | Second half - 27 mins |