Does your country have a saying/slogan?
“Pray for One Korea.”
Can you tell us about your team’s makeup? How did your team come together?
Going back to 2015, the first announcement of the Unity Cup event, a group of like-minded Korean men got together and formed a South Korean team. Since then, many members have moved on to different states or gotten busy with their job and family. Despite those situations, our passion for soccer got us to stick together as a team and community, which allowed us to participate in the Unity Cup four years in a row.
Our team consists of students and young professions in their 20s and 30s who enjoy playing soccer regularly. Some from suburbs, but the majority of us reside in the city, participating in local soccer events such as Casa Soccer League, Philadelphia Sports Leagues, and any pick-up games in various locations throughout the city.
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
In the country of a huge melting pot, cultural similarity is one way to relate to one another. Since soccer has been around for many years in most countries in the world, playing soccer allows strangers to get together regardless of skin color, mother tongue, or political beliefs.
Through the Unity Cup, our team was invited to play a scrimmage against other communities in different parts of the city or surrounding neighborhood we were not familiar with. Every time, the hosting team would welcome us with open arms and suggest good local restaurants for us to try. Experiences like this let us travel throughout the city and make us feel like we are welcome to any parts of the city.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about the culture of the country your team represents?
Unfortunately, the Korean community has not been established on a larger scale in the city for others to have a fully authentic experience. However, we have lots of restaurants and grocery stores that can share a great flavor of South Korea. Seorabol, located at Broad and Locust, is a convenient way to experience Korean BBQ. H-mart, located near 69th street station and 5th and Cheltenham, is a great grocery store that sells Korean snacks, food, and cultural products.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your team’s country?
South Korea can be easily confused with China and Japan due to relatively similar culture and food. However, Korea has a long history and distinct culture which made us Korea. K-pop, Korean drama, kimchi, Samsung, etc. are well known as Korean culture, but still, there are many other things that involve Korean culture and make us unique. There isn’t one thing that I would like you to learn about Korea, but I would like you to pay closer attention to Korean culture. If you have a Korean friend or happen to run into a Korean store, please ask them to tell you more about Korea. That would be an easy way to connect with them.