It was about 2:00 a.m. as my taxi careered down the highway that leads from Incheon airport to downtown Seoul. Having just landed in the middle of a lightning storm, the rain was battering the taxi windshield and the GPS on the driver’s dashboard blinked indicating a breaking of the local speed limit. I was starting to wonder if it was really that essential that I make it to my 3:30 a.m. appointment on time.
That appointment was to watch and photograph the World Cup game between Brazil and North Korea. An odd appointment to be trying to keep you may think, especially for an Englishman based in Beijing. This however was the first part of a shoot I was assigned to for the Canadian newspaper the Globe & Mail which involved spending last week in South Korea.
As many readers of this blog will know, last year I travelled undercover with the Globe & Mail’s Mark MacKinnon into North Korea to report on this isolated nation. During a fascinating 5 day trip I witnessed a country of such uniqueness, that I am quite confident I will never see anything quite like it again. This time however, I was heading south of the DMZ to try to gauge the reactions of locals in Seoul to the arrival of the neighbour on the World Cup scene.
In the build up to the game, nobody really knew anything about this team. Some people mocked them, expecting Brazil to embarrass the lowest-ranked team in the competition. Most people drew a blank when asked about them, in a similar way as if you asked them about the country in general.