Indiana Daily Student

Yon-Ko Games: Korea’s Little 500

Yonsei University students cheer on the soccer team through a rain of confetti Saturday afternoon at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium.
Yonsei University students cheer on the soccer team through a rain of confetti Saturday afternoon at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium.

Attending Yonsei University in Seoul hasn’t had many highlights for me so far.

Trying to register for classes was a nightmare for every student, not just international students. I changed my schedule three times and ended up with none of the classes I originally planned for. Yonsei was not looking so hot these past two weeks, until this weekend.

Since 1956, Yonsei University has participated in a series of friendly sports games with its rival, Korea University.

They call it the Yon-Ko Games. The main sporting events include baseball, ice hockey, basketball, rugby and soccer. Because neither campus is equipped to hold all of the sporting events or seat all the spectators from both universities, many games take place at Seoul’s Jamsil Sports Complex, a major facility for the 1988 Summer Olympic games.

Throughout the week I saw different organizations selling blue Yonsei apparel. There seemed to be excitement brewing on the campus. However, I wasn’t quite aware of how big these games were until I walked through the campus Friday morning and realized it was empty – much like IU’s campus during Little 500 week.

Half of my morning class didn’t show and only two people were in my Korean language class – also barring similar likeness to classes I’ve attended during Little 500.

I decided that perhaps I should show some school spirit and attend one of these games. Since soccer is one of the more popular sports in Korea, I decided to make my way to the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning.

Sporting a collegiate, blue Yonsei T-shirt and an equally blue Yonsei sports towel around my neck, I entered the stadium to the roaring sounds of cheering and music as well as vibrations at my feet from thousands of students jumping and dancing to show their support.

The stadium was divided into reds and blues (red is Korea University’s color). In front of the mobs of red and blue were stages where each school’s cheering-dancing squad entertained the crowd. The entertainers didn’t just perform at half time but throughout the whole game.

Although the roar made it hard to concentrate on how bad Yonsei’s soccer team was doing (Korea University usually wins), it made for a better crowd unified by dancing and cheering with arms linked swaying from side to side. As predicted we lost the game, but that didn’t seem to faze the blue mob.

We continued to dance and shout along with the entertainers as blue confetti and fireworks shot out of the stage.

As we returned to the campus there were concerts and free food and drinks distributed. In the town adjacent to the university, crowds of both red and blue joined together to celebrate the events in the streets. There was singing, chanting and way too much drinking – also reminding me of a particular spring weekend at IU.

Although this weekend was hectic, crowded and overwhelming, I don’t think anyone would have it any other way. The Yon-Ko Games are definitely a plus for Yonsei University in my book.

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