Da-Ga-Ra (다가라) by Uhm Jung-hwa (엄정화)
Korean singer Shin Min-a (신민아), known as Mi-na (미나), who first became famous as “World Cup Girl.” More pics here.
In the Konglish parlance of World Cup 2002, “Korea Whiting!” was a phrase you heard everywhere. They meant “Korea fighting!” but unfortunately the Hangul alphabet, lacking an equivalent to “f,” left them choosing between “p” (ㅍ) and “hw” (화). They opted for the latter, and so Korea was whiting its way through an ecstatic month of surprise victories that landed them in fourth place.
Well, World Cup is upon us again, and here at the Korean Mission, a huge TV has been set up in the library, and we have been invited to watch Korea’s first match, against Togo, at nine o’clock Monday morning, and instructed to wear red (I’ll have my Be the Reds! T-shirt on).
In honor of the games, I thought I’d put up a few tracks that take me back to the glory days of 2002. The first, “Pilseung Korea,” means “Victorious Korea,” and was pretty much the national anthem during World Cup 2002. “Da-Ga-Ra” is a fun little pop tune by a woman who seems to be known more as an actress than as a singer. It was a huge hit in ’02.
Going into the [semifinal] game against Germany, my feelings were no longer ambiguous. Jenny and I went with Suky and her family to watch it on a big screen at the local middle school. I wore my “Be the Reds” T-shirt like everyone else — the T-shirt vendors are the real winners of this World Cup — and I cheered for Korea. At half-time the score was still 0-0, and the crowd around us reacted as if they knew this might be their last hurrah. Fireworks were everywhere, and a circle of dancers beat on drums and Korean cymbals. It was very foreign and very beautiful, and we were reminded once again that we are living in a culture that is not our own.
Tonight, it begins again. GO KOREA!