Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού
Dream Come True
When some incident happens, not always can hear a prelude sounds. Without any sign, sometimes, fate brings pain hard to bear. Kim Yi-Gyu could never forget that day. Wind blowing in Tapdong coast was soft and sweet. The gentle breeze, blowing over the rolling waves, touched everyone on the cheek without discrimination. The beautiful sea and the dazzling summer sun were creating a beautiful view. Just as any one did Yi-Gyu was enjoying the peaceful summer day leisurely and comfortably. On the hot day in June, seven- year -old son wanted to go buy some ice cream, he gave his son 5000 won and allowed him to go. His son did not come back long after the time, so, Yi-Gyu went to find him. He finds that people gathered on the street. He heard ‘Unrememberable’ Sound.
“What a terrible accident!”
Hearing a woman saying in a trembling voice, Yi-Gyu had an ominous premonition. Pushing his way through the surrounding people Yi-Gyu approached. He found his son lying down on the asphalt road and a car parked next to him. Blood was gushing from Hyung-Gi’s nose and ears. Yi-Gyu sighed. Feeling dizzy he said without knowing what it meant.
“You are not Dying You’re Just Waking Up”
He cried out to the God and unashamedly pray to God save his son.
His thin voice might not be heard to anyone.
“My precious son is dying.”
His son, Hyung-Gi, was transported to a hospital, but it did not seem there was any possibility of his surviving at all. The doctor said Yi-Gyu.
“I’m not sure that Hyung-Gi can hear your voices, even though, let him know that dad is here with him.”
Yi-Gyu kept talking and wiped the sweat off son’s brow.
A week later the doctor said to Yi-Gyu in a brusque tone, there was no chance for Hyung-Gi to survive. Even if he was able to regain consciousness, perhaps he would have to stay in the hospital for rest of his life. Yi-Gyu said holding gently the hand of his son lying still as if he was dead.
“Fight to overcome! My son, Human life is a fight and fighting is a human life. Fight for your life! We are born to fight to win to conquer and overcome, the will to fight is the most important!”
In some weeks Hyung-Gi’s weight reduced by 7kilograms. Yi-Gyu was feeling painful and guilty. He thought because he had not taken good care of his son the accident happened. Turning his head he sobbed, he could not see the face of his son. For a while he thought he himself was not normal. If he had not been robust, he might be unable to overcome this pain, and would have abused himself. But Yi-Gyu had grown strongly because of his father. He had been left in a remote area of Nepal to survive the harsh adversities, just like poor children. He always said to Yi-Gyu about how to overcome adversity.
“When you face adversity, try to have the eye of the tiger! Ultimately, without adversity, there are no opportunities for growth or building resilience. Adversity teaches us about ourselves, about being uncomfortable, and how to endure. Without it, we may never discover our inner strength. Once upon a time, Buddha said that endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”
His farther, Kim, Jun-Ha himself, dedicated all life to humanity. After separating from his parents Yi-Gyu had come to Korea to live with his uncle. It took a long time for Yi-Gyu to realize that he could not live like his father. Yi-Gyu had not kept in contact with his father for a long time. But this hardship made him call to his father. Kim Jun-Ha said to him calmly.
“My son! Do not blame yourself. When there is no target to blame, it is called the worst misfortune. Have faith in the future. You should believe your son get well again, you should sure and pray to Buddha. When Pandora’s box was open, hope also came out to win the pain. Living without hope is like being dead. I love you, my son!”
Wiping tears Yi-Gyu ended talking on the phone saying goodbye to his father, and he believed Hyong-Gi would regain his consciousness and recover. Even if it might not happen he was going to believe that until his death. There was no alternative.
Hyong-Gi liked football, particularly was fond of goal keepers. Yi-Gyu got the picture of the goal keeper Kim Byung-Ji in a frame and put it close to Hyong-Gi’s pillow. Then he whispered to Hyong-Gi.
“Heros also feel the same fear like cowards. Only attitudes toward fear are different. It is the hero’s way to confront and overcome the fear.”
Yi-Gyu told it again and again in his desperate situation as if muttering these words to himself.
Mi-Suk had passed away when she gave birth to Hyong-Gi at her childbirth. Hyong-Gi is her only son, born that fateful November night that she died. Loing for Mi-Suk rushed into Yi-Gyu’s heart like the flowing tide. No matter how desperate the situation was Yi-Gyu could not give up. No matter how strong their resolve, sometimes people get frustrated and want to give up. Yi-Gyu said to himself.
“The only way you can fail is when you stop trying, I will do everything I can for my son!”
Tears were flowing even though he vowed to himself would not show weakness. It seemed vain tears were from the depths of despair. Yi-Gyu’s soft cry was going into Mi-Suk’s ears digging onto her at deathbed.
Breath of Mi-Suk was gone as darkness came the glow and light faded. With the last kiss after her death Yi-Gyu felt all kinds of emotions, and could not get out of deep remorse. She had a shapely nose. Her lower lip was slightly thick and looked a little sensual. There were always breeziness and vitality in her eyes. She was cheerful and friendly. Sending her was too harsh for Yi-Gyu. He believed it was certain there was no one like her in whole world. Time spent with her was too short, only two years.
Goal keeper Kim Byung-Ji was in the dressing room at soccer field. Wiping sweat from his forehead with a towel, he was thinking of his fan-boy lying in a coma. He called Yi-Gyu and said he would meet his son, Hyong-Gi.
“It would not help much if came. I think he is completely unconscious.”
Yi-Gyu hung up with a mixture of emotions within. Byung-Ji was feeling the same. Three days later, Byung-Ji visited the hospital. He shook hands with Yi-Gyu.
“Nice to meet you. Mr. Kim Yi-Gyu, I’m Kim Byung-Ji.”
Kim Byung-Ji went into the room and looked at the pale face of lying Hyong-Gi. After a while depressed Kim Byung-Ji asked.
“What can do to help him?”
Yi-Gyu shook his head desperately and looked down at his son. He tried to control himself not to shed tears. Kim Byung-Ji was overlooking Hyong-Gi as motionless as a dead man, then suddenly he shook Hyong-Gi’s body gently.
“Wake up, you Kim Hyong-Gi! I am a goalkeeper, Kim Byung-Ji. You should guard the goal against a strong ball even hitting it with your fist. You should not be afraid of the ball to be a great keeper. You should look at the ball straight, no matter how strong the ball is, watch the ball and confront.”
Something like miracle happened at that moment. Hyong-Gi’s facial muscles moved gently, his eyes opened and closed again after staring at Kim Byung-Ji. Kim Byung-Ji felt a thrill coming up out of deep inside his heart.
“Did you see it. Mr. Kim Yi-Gyu? Hyong-Gi opened his eyes! He looked at me straight.”
Kim Byung-Ji and Kim Yi-Gyu called doctor. Doctor checked Hyong-Gi and looked at two of them then he went out with a puzzled look. Hyong-Gi did not move like being dead.
“Mr. Byung-Ji! Did my son really open his eyes? I wish my son will be get well soon.”
Then, He said to his son.
“Dear Son I wish that you get well soon, so that you can go out and play again. Get well soon!”
Byung-Ji thought he saw Hyong-Gi open his eyes. But it was only a moment.
Looking at Hyong-Gi lying deadly again he stopped saying. Kim Byung-Ji came out of the room leaving a signed soccer ball as a gift for Hyong-Gi. Byung-Ji and Yi-Gyu went to a seafood restaurant and drank in silence, then Yi-Gyu started talking.
“My parents are doctors. They intended to spend their life working for the World Health Organization. I went to school living with my uncle when I was about ten. I felt lonely many times. While I have felt lonely many times in my life, the oddest feeling of all was after my wife died. I always had some attachment to my wife while she was alive. It seems strange to say now that I felt so lonely, yet I did. I spent the happiest time when I met my wife, Whang Mi-Suk. She’s gone to the other world, she left only Hyong-Gi…… My wife’s death shattered my world. The shock of it numbed me but when that wore off, I knew I needed to be there for my only son.”
Byung-Ji had heard and knew that the family of Kim Yi-Gyu was prestigious and rich for generations. He also knew very well that no one can avoid basic human sufferings, it was inherent. Goal keeper in soccer team and baseball pitchers had to fight alone in solitude. They used to be always lonely, anxious and afraid. But the goal keeper with strong faith gave the team great hope when the team had difficulties. Goal keepers often felt great joy like an orgasm at the top of the pain when they defended the team against enemy’s fine goal. He was able to understand the pain Yi-Gyu was feeling. Nothing could take its place. Someone said That when parents died you lost past, but when a child was lost, you would lose future. He earnestly prayed for Yi-Gyu that his son would get well and stand up again.
Kim Byung-Ji came back to his daily routines. After undergoing passionate games, he went to see Hyong-Gi. Every time he said wards of encouragement to him, but he was lying in the bed just like being dead.
On March 5, 2000, it was stilly outside due to the spring frost, Yi-Gyu was dozing then surprised to hear the sound of a voice calling weakly.
Hyong-Gi was smiling with open eyes. Then he fell asleep again. The hours of his staying awake grew longer. Since march when he awoke from a coma-like state that had kept his silent and unmoving for almost two years, he has undergone surgery on her long-unused limbs and has had intensive speech therapy to unlock his long-dormant tongue. The doctor said It’s a kind of miracle, and if he could not stand up or walk, it would be a wonderful thing only if he was able to see and hear. For the first time Kim Yi-Gyu thanked God. He membered the passage written in a round plate in the center of the hospital lobby.
‘Ardent heart has no place it could not reach. If you wish and try desperately, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.’
Yi-Gyu was hoping keenly that his son would wake up. Yi-Gyu was thinking that human mind was round without any reason. And he did not know why but believed that human mind was round. And he wanted to explore the center of mind. He was wondering what’s in the center of his son’s heart. What made his son wake up? In the deep room in the center of round thing might be living a strong spark of vitality.
Hyong-Gi was fond of goal keepers and always waited for the visit of his favorite goalkeeper Kim Byung-Ji. The signed soccer ball, a gift from Byung-Ji, was always placed next to him. His desire to touch the ball was moving his hands. Yi-Gyu was convinced that his son was returning gradually to normal body condition. Yi-Gyu was feeling that all those came from Byung-Ji’ visit. He was leading the good luck and that appeared to Yi-Gyu.
Yi-Gyu had joined The Red Devils, a supporter club for the Korea national soccer team, for his son. The Red Devils cheering squad was formed in 1997, and since then for the last four years, in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, wherever the South Korea football team was playing games, it went to cheer for the team. Red Devils cheering squad was called as the 12th major player in the South Korea soccer team and made it red one side of the stadium wearing red shirts. In early January, 2001, Red Devils cheering squad members were 10,000. But the number increased to more than 50,000, just in one year, and chanted “Korea Fighting!” Hyong-Gi was out of hospital and taking physical therapy then. He was gradually getting better like a miracle. His doctors asserted that it was a miracle in a ward.
“When he was awake, I thought although he could see and hear but not to stand or walk around. I did not expect it, but he might be able to recover and become normal, it seems possible now.”
The doctor said goodbye to Yi-Gyu and his son with a bright smile and a rewarded feeling.
Sitting in a wheelchair Hyong-Gi joined the Red Devils cheering squad and turned into a dynamic and passionate boy. In Red Devils cheering squad there were people of different ages together from 10 to senior. Ordinary office workers and college students who liked soccer, elderly and young, various people got together.
Guus Hiddink, the first foreign manager of a Korean World Cup squad, became the manager of the South Korea national soccer team in December 2000, he was trying to advance the team into the Round of 16 in a World Cup match.
“Advancing into the Round of 16 in Korea-Japan World Cup match in 2002 was the first goal of the team. And the most important background was confidence. Wining the victory and advancing into 16 finals in the World Cup for the first time was the goal for the Korean team. It looked difficult in reality, some people thought. But I would not accept this job from the beginning if I did not believe at all South Korea team had possibility.”
Hiddink could fulfill his dreams regardless of how lofty it was, and that all he needed to fulfill his dreams was willpower. He also needed a clear vision, courage, a good dose of luck, and loads of perseverance.
Hiddink had emphasized confidence. Kim Byung-Ji determined to show his maximum ability in the Gold Cup Day. He said confidently even in an interview with reporters.
“I will let the world know the excellence of Korean soccer with the least points lost among the goal keepers of the teams participating in World Cup.”
Yi-Gyu talked his parents on the phone those days. They were pleased very much with the news Hyong-Gi got well. It was not usual for them to expose their feelings. Yi-Gyu talked about World Cup, and they commented it’s serving as the only ‘world religion’ and punching the barriers of border, race, continents and languages. His parents were worried about global crises. Always they insisted that wrong nationalism was an insult to humanity, and it’s due to the covetousness of a few business people leading the masses to the wrong way and made madness engulf them. They believed mankind had to solve the facing problems with the idea that ‘humanity is one’, and argued breaking the walls around the boarders and races of the world.
Yi-Gyu made phone call to Kim Byung-Ji after talking with his parents.
“Byung-Ji, I’m sorry you seemed not to exercise your right skills these days.”
He replied calmly.
“It’s not always everything goes well to the direction you want. Great things take time. We must let patience have its perfect work. Occasionally we meet time to drink with bitter cups in life. You should take I without hesitation. I think now is the bitter time for me. I will endure. I am talking to myself that my body is strong and my mind is strong and I have unbounded faith and hope in myself.”
Byung-Ji knew that his family and friends would trust him, although he had allowed many goals. A lot of people misunderstood him as an orphan because he was from Busan Boys Home. But he had chosen it because he wanted to be a soccer player too much. When he was a student in Masan High School, he was told it could be difficult for him to be a keeper because he had only height of 1m 63cm. in order to continue to play soccer he chose Busan Boys Home which accepted him. He had worked using his qualifications of elevator mechanic and shelve welder to make a living. Eventually he passed the tryouts and joined as an executive. Then he joined the professional Soccer Team of Ulsan Hyundai. Many people got discouraged and despaired even in a better environment than in the past. Everyone can get discouraged. He needed to address what was discouraging him and turned it around. When he was down and discouraged, sharing that with his team. Byung-Ji always remember gratefulness from the heart. From a thankful heart soared joy and sprang willingness and vitality to challenge. He used to shout in the air.
“I will always stand up whenever I fall rather than success. There is no frustration in my life. Let’s smile, not because I don’t have problems but because I am stronger than the problems.”
The fans loved Kim Byung-Ji full of vitality, his unique hair style which looked like the tail of a bird, and his shouting to the front.
On June 18, 2002, at Daejeon World Cup Stadium, South Korea and Italy soccer teams were contending offensively. The two teams repeated advancing and retreating in the first half, then it’s 18 minutes South Korea team allowed Italy a corner kick. Totti from Italy Kicked a round soccer ball low in the corner. Vieri from Italy team was standing opposite side and tried a heading shoot, Choi Jin-Cheul from Korea team caught up with Vieri holding his uniform. In spite of Choi Jin-Cheul’s defense Vieri took the ball kicked by Toti, and with a heading shoot scored 1 putting the ball round the post into the right corner of the net exactly. Korea team sent Whang Sun-Hong as a substitute player when it was 17 minutes in the second half, the score was 0-1. For Whang Sun-Hong who had worked for 14 years in the national team, it was the 100th moment in his career to participate in the national team game. It made Whang Sun-Hong belong to the FIFA Century Club. FIFA Century Club was a group of players who had played A match accredited by FIFA more than 100 times, and nine South Korea players joined the Century Club; Hong Myung-bo, Lee Woon-Jae, Lee Young-Pyo, Yoo Sang-Chul, Cha Bum Kun, Kim Tae-young, Whang Sun-Hong, Lee Dong-guk, Park Ji-seong.
The crowd yelled “Whang Sun-Hong”. With his dynamic activity Whang Sun-Hong breathed new strength to other players. It was 43 minutes in the second half that Park Ji-seong passed ball to Seol Ki-hyon made a goal by gently wrapping around the ball and kicking it with his left foot exactly into the Italian goal post. When Seol Ki-hyon equalized the score like a miracle, Hyong-Gi was running around the square embracing other people. Entire Republic of Korea was shaking with shouts. Yi-Gyu was also shouting for joy, then he was worried about his son and looked at him. His son was romping excited about the game, and then suffering pains. But the physical pain seemed not to diminish the enthusiasm of his heart very much. Now the World Cup was giving an enthusiastic ecstasy to a lot of people.
“Are you okay? Hyong-Gi?”
His son was laughing and answered making grimace.
“It hurts, but so exciting, I just love it.”
They laughed awkwardly looking at each other.
On June 22, 2002, in Gwangju, South Korea and Spain teams were matching, the score was 4-3. From Spain team Joaquin Sanchez, number 4 player, kicked the ball and Korea team goal keeper Lee Woon-jae, ‘spider hands’, blocked it. Joaquin Sanchez hesitated temporarily before his shooting, then, ‘spider hands’ Lee Woon-jae penetrated the direction of the ball. Following him Hong Myung-boraised a shoot toward the Spain net confidently. At last the myth of Korea’s national soccer team to World Cup semifinals in 2002 was born.
“In June, they would probably surprise the world.”
March 13, 2002, Hiddink said that. Leading the Taeguk Warriors from South Korea, he did more than what he said.
Some junior high school students were playing soccer. Hyong-Gi was playing soccer showing nearly normal movement. But Yi-Gyu was anxious and watching him carefully. The neighborhood children playing soccer with him also understood the situation of his son and they were taking it into consideration. Chul-min was a new to the neighborhood. He was a pretty good soccer player. While showing off his skills he netted a strong shot to the goal keeper Hyong-Gi. Yi-Gyu was lighting up a cigarette then dropping it he was about to throw himself to his son.
But Hyong-Gi threw himself and punched the ball and the ball few away from the goal. Other children were surprised, especially Yi-Gyu was relieved to see his son erect himself. All clapped enthusiastically. Yi-Gyu clapped too. Confident expression on Hyong-Gi’s face looked beautiful. Only Chul-min was wondering why they were applauding. He could not understand the reason. The play ground was full of applause and light of the autumn sun was shining bright there.