What is your name and home field location?
Kyung Yoon. We play at Penn Park or Drexel’s Buckley Green.
What is your connection to South Korea?
I was born and raised in South Korea.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
This event does not only allow us to interact with other communities, but also allows us to be united among Korean soccer players from different neighborhoods. Although each player has a different background, cultural exposure, and native tongue, we got together to know each other and build up a decent brotherhood through this event.
What was your favorite moment from last year’s tournament?
Our first win against Nigeria was my favorite moment from last year. That was the best performance we had last season. I also enjoyed every moment I got to chat with each team members before each game and practice. Some of us were strangers or too busy to keep up with current status before the Cup. Catching up with them was another joyful moment from last year’s tournament.
Can you tell us a bit about the rest of your team?
I used to play soccer for the Tongil team in a Korean soccer league hosted by the Korean American Soccer Association. Some of our team members are from the same team, and we recruited our friends and people we play with or against on different soccer leagues or pickup games throughout the Philadelphia area.
What does soccer mean to your community?
As you can see from the 2002 World Cup, soccer is one of the most passionate sports in the Korean community. Many Korean people play soccer to stay social and exercise. We have many geeks who analyze different strategies, watch every soccer game on TV, or collect all the uniforms from different club or national teams. Soccer has become more than just a sport; rather, it became a culture. Soccer is one of the greatest ways to bring the community together.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
I grew up playing soccer ever since I could walk. That was the only sport I played and I was good at. I never got proper soccer training in my young age. I taught myself by watching Ronaldo, not CR, and YouTube bloggers. Because of my passion for soccer, I met so many people and some of them are great friends of mine. I enjoyed every moment I play soccer and I will especially during the 2017 Unity Cup.
How has soccer made your life better?
Determination, leadership, communication, confidence, organization, knowledge for nutrition and health, prevention and management of injuries, making decisions, and time management. These are just a few things I can think of which helped me to become a better person.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
Soccer is one of the most economic and complicated sports in the world. It doesn’t matter what your economic, physical, or educational status is. Anybody can become a star player. There are many different styles, strategies, and techniques out there to play soccer. There is no one answer to win in this game. I think this makes soccer more popular than any other sports in the world.
How do you think soccer in general (and the Unity Cup in particular) promotes inclusivity?
I think it is great to allow many different communities to compete against each other. Without the Unity Cup, it could never happen among some communities. However, each team tends to limit their team members to be younger (40 or younger) since it gets very competitive. There are many seniors in the Korean community who want to play soccer in this league. It would be great if there were a senior league in the Unity Cup.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about South Korean culture?
Rice & Mix in Center City shows a good flavor of Korean food.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about South Korea?
There are stereotypes of Asians in the US. Unfortunately, many Asian people do not agree with those stereotypes because not all Asians are the same. In addition, people from different countries have very different characteristics; for example, China, Japan, and Korea are very different although they are right next to each other. Many people know a lot about Chinese and Japanese culture and food, but not so much in Korean. I wish people knew more about the language, the food, and the culture. Also, it is our job as Korean people to make other communities aware of our culture. Hopefully, through the 2017 Unity Cup, people can know more about our culture.