Meet the cake-baking, marathon-running South Korean supporters

With a distance of 9000km between Seoul and Cardiff, you perhaps wouldn’t expect a huge supporters’ bus worth of South Korean support in the Welsh capital this week.

That thought in mind, a group of Korean students in Edinburgh have spent the past few months baking cakes, running marathons, and generally raising funds to come to support their countrymen and rally the crowds.

Sihwan Hong, studying Sports Management at Edinburgh University, takes up the tale.

“I first heard about Homeless World Cup when Mel Young came to our classes and spoke about the foundation. As a person who believes sport can change the world, I was really inspired,” he explains.

“One day one of our students suggested doing a marathon and, unlike in Korea, we knew that in the UK lots of people fundraise while running marathons. So we thought rather than just participate why don’t we raise funds for Homeless World Cup, to go to Cardiff and support our players here. Our friends from Edinburgh Korean church joined in and we raised £1000 to support the Korean players.”

The Edinburgh eight not only arrived on site with outstanding vocal support and some encouraging placards, but with goodie bags of Korean food, snacks, and personal care products.

Adds Sihwan, ‘We contacted Big Issue Korea to find out about the players and what they might need.”

Accepting the cheers and gifts on behalf of his team—a combination of students and street paper vendors—player Lee Tae Min said: “For the previous days we have felt like the away team, but because of the support here today we gained a lot of power and strength from the cheering.”

Words and image: Isobel Irvine