The South Korean national team was eliminated from the World Cup in their last group stage match, but it was a close thing. Despite defeating defending World Cup champions Germany 2-0 (also eliminating Die Mannschaft), Korea was eliminated after Mexico lost to Sweden 3-0. Had the Mexicans defeated the Swedes, Korea would’ve advanced along with Mexico.
You wouldn’t know that based on the reception they got back home in Seoul. The Taeguk Warriors were pelted with eggs and Union Jack pillows upon their return home by fans upset by their early exit from Russia.
Take a look.
I am given to understand that throwing things at failed sports figures is A Thing™ in South Korea — in 2014, the Korean team was pelted with candy as an insult for similarly being sent home early (though Deadspin understood that the intended message was a little more... blue than just throwing things at athletes).
It’s sad that some stupid behavior by a minority of idiots can have such a publicly visible effect. I’m especially sad for Sonny, who pretty much left his life blood out on the pitch in Russia, and who scored two goals on a team where he was pretty clearly the best player.
I mean, come on. Korea were big, big underdogs in their group, which proved to be tougher than anyone expected, and they responded after losing their first two games by beating friggin’ Germany, coming within a whisker of progressing to the Round of 16! Anyone who saw Sonny cry after losing the Mexico match cannot possibly fault his commitment to the Korean national team or his patriotism. And now people are throwing eggs at him and he’s sad again. The f—kers. They don’t deserve him. We love you, Heung-Min!
Son spoke to the crowd at Incheon International Airport and said, basically, we weren’t good enough, but hey, that Germany match sure was fun, right?
“I am sorry to our fans that we didn’t live up to our promise of reaching the knockout stage. But I think we all saw some hope from the win over Germany. But we won’t be drunk with that bit of success, and we’ll continue to work hard.”
Hopefully Son can channel his disappointment into positive energy that will lift him and his Korea U23 teammates to to the Asian Games gold medal in September.