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S. Koreans Perform ‘Ohno Ceremony’

June 10, 2002

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DAEGU, South Korea (AP) _ Heeding a government appeal, most South Koreans avoided anti-U.S. protests during Monday’s 1-1 tie with the United States in the World Cup. Some South Korean players did not.

A goal down midway through the second half, striker Ahn Jung-hwan tied it, heading home a kick from Lee Eul-yong. Some 60,000 red-clad home fans erupted in wild cheers, shouting ``Oh, oh, Korea.″

Ahn then ran to one corner of the field and performed what South Koreans call an ``Ohno ceremony,″ simulating speedskating gestures. A half-dozen teammates joined him, sliding back and forth as if on the ice.

The ceremony was meant to ridicule American Apolo Anton Ohno, who was awarded the gold medal in a short-track speedskating event at the Salt Lake City Olympics after South Korean Kim Dong-sung was disqualified. Kim crossed the line first but the Australian referee determined that Kim had blocked Ohno with a half-lap to go.

The South Korean delegation threatened to boycott the Olympic closing ceremony to protest what they believed was biased refereeing. The incident provoked anti-American sentiment among South Koreans.

``We knew that our people still have some grudge against the United States for the skating incident, so we wanted to allay that with the goal ceremony. It would have been much better if we had won the match,″ Ahn said.

Ahn’s celebration drew thunderous cheers from the home crowd, which chanted ``Ahn Jung-hwan, Ahn Jung-hwan.″ A satisfied coach Guus Hiddink pumped his fists in a trademark victory gesture.

There was no comment from South Korean officials about the ``Ohno ceremony.″

Ahn, 25, who plays for Italy’s Perugia, joined Hiddink’s squad as a last-minute choice. He has provided a spark whenever South Korea needed him.

In Monday’s match, Ahn again shined when South Korea was down. A substitute in the 55th minute, Ahn got the tying header with 12 minutes left.

President Kim Dae-jung, concerned about possible anti-U.S. protests during Monday’s match, did not go to the stadium. He instead watched the game on television with his wife, Lee Hee-ho, and 20 aides.

When the South Korean team scored, Kim got on his feet and clapped, presidential spokeswoman Park Sun-sook said.

``Everyone did a good job,″ the president was quoted as saying. ``The peoples’ cheering despite the rain must have been a big help to the players.

``I expect a good fight in remaining matches.″

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