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world cup

South Korean Sunrise Party Marred Only Slightly by Loss

Second in an irregular series of encounters with expat World Cup fans. (See also: Brazil.)

Match: Argentina 4, South Korea 1.

Location: New Spot Café & Bar (that link isn't wrong; it's been renamed), Korean restaurant/bar/lounge, 158–14 Northern Boulevard, Flushing.

The Draw: Enough Koreans live here that Flushing has been called West Korea (by us, just now). Bars were open along Northern Boulevard for the 7:30 a.m. match, but this one offered a free pitcher of Coors Light to all comers.

Had Some of the Waitresses Been Awake for 24 Hours: Yes. New Spot is open all night before South Korea's early matches, and waitress Gemma, who moved to the States from South Korea six years ago, decided there was no better place to kill the twelve hours between her shifts.

Scene: As the sun rose at 5:25 a.m. Thursday, still two hours prior to kickoff, four South Korean natives smoked Marlboros (Reds, matching the team colors) on the restaurant's patio. They'd been there since 10 p.m. "We were drinking," said Sunny, 47. "We didn't want to go home — we might fall asleep. That's what happened to me Saturday. I woke up at the half. I was so pissed." The joint was full by game time. At 6:30, your correspondent was offered a beer; when he declined, it appeared anyway. Eh, why not?

Sunny's crew took a table front and center and ordered a breakfast of wings and salad. But the grub arrived after kickoff and thus sat untouched for an hour. The crowd ooh-ed, ahh-ed, or applauded every change in possession. Shots on goal and saves prompted "Dae-Han-Min-Kook!" chants (that's the name of the Korean peninsula) in the familiar "clap-clap-clap" rhythm. But the fans (shirts reading "Red Devils," "Be the Reds," "All the Reds," and "Let's Go Reds") cursed in English as South Korea's one-goal deficit ballooned to three.

After the game, Sunny was still all smiles, raising his arms in the air as if to say: We had a good time anyway. Fans flowed onto the sidewalks, turning Northern Boulevard into a red river. "I mean, four to one!" one young woman said to another. "Does that even make sense? And the last two we kind of gave them! Ugh!" A van honked, flying full-size South Korean and American flags, earning one more chant. "Dae-Han-Min-Kook!" Clap-clap, clap-clap-clap.

If you know of a good spot to catch a game with crazed nationals, let us know in the comments.

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Photo: Mike Ogle