I've written for some pretty cool places. My byline has appeared on the Wall Street Journal (my first serious writing gig,) CNN, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, etc. But with apologies to all of the foregoing, I have a few "bucket list" publications on which I really wanted to appear. And I just crossed one off, with the New York Review of Books!
Under the military dictatorship that lasted until 1987, a public gathering in South Korea was a grim, joyless affair: either a phony mass convocation drummed up by the government, or a pro-democracy protest featuring Molotov cocktails and tear gas. A law prohibiting Koreans from gathering after sundown stayed on the books until 2009. But in 2002, millions of Team Korea supporters—calling themselves the Red Devils—gathered at Seoul’s City Hall Plaza on game nights. The chanting and singing supporters became a spectacle of their own. As the Taegeuk Warriors took down one powerhouse after another, the mood of the crowd, made up mostly of Koreans in their twenties and thirties, shifted. They tuned out the grousing of Italy and Spain fans who pointed to South Korea’s home-field advantage and some dodgy refereeing. Instead, the young Koreans fed off the new-found confidence of their team: we are no longer underdogs; we can win on our own merits.World Cup 2018: South Korea Wins at Democracy [New York Review of Books]
My piece is one of the NYRB special series on the World Cup, highlighting what soccer means to each country appearing in the games. Every essay is incredible, and I feel honored to be a part of this lineup.