Koreans wary of taking cheer out of cheerleading

JOHANNESBURG - South Korea's red army of football fans hope to light up the World Cup with their unique brand of chants and slogans, but the Red Devils are worried their cheerleading skills are on the wane.

Millions of red-clad South Korean fans brought cities to a standstill during the 2002 World Cup finals on home soil and their vibrant, if highly regimented, chants and songs are one of the most colourful aspects of World Cups finals.

However, the organisation behind the Red Devils says fans have been relying on old material for far too long and their performance at recent warm-up games showed they need to freshen things up.

"As shown in the warm-up match against Belarus, overseas Koreans have limited access to the latest styles of cheering," said Park Chang-hyun, the overseas cheering department head of the Red Devils.

"(The Red Devils) started as a small organisation made up of genuine football lovers. Now we have abundant know-how of effective cheering activities, we will not let them be a bind for those who will be joining us in the stadiums," he told the Korea Times newspaper.

Park, who will arrive in South Africa later in the week with a hard-core group of fans, hopes supporters will catch on quickly to the latest developments in cheerleading and is confident they will soon be singing from the same hymn sheet.

"It is likely to take some time for supporters to get used to shouting out the new slogan," said the 41-year-old, adding that they will belt out some of the old favourites before serving up the latest chants.

"So we will start to liven up the mood first with popular slogans such as "Daehanminguk" (Republic of Korea) or "Oh, pilseung Korea (Oh, victorious Korea)."

South Korea fans will debut their new repertoire on June 12 when the Asian side meet Greece in their Group B opener in Port Elizabeth.

The Koreans will then meet Argentine five days later and finish their group campaign against Nigeria on June 22.

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