Korean ambassador supports Vietnam in Asiad semi-final … against Korea

By Viet Anh   August 28, 2018 | 09:59 pm PT
Kim Do-hyon says he has fallen in love with the team and so it is an individual’s decision, not an envoy’s.

Kim spoke with journalists in Hanoi ahead of Vietnam’s semi-final against South Korea in the Asian Games on Wednesday. 

South Korean ambassador to Vietnam Kim Do-hyon. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Anh

South Korean ambassador to Vietnam Kim Do-hyon. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Anh

What is your feeling before the match? 

I expected Vietnam and South Korea to meet each other in the final of the Asiad, but now we're in a tricky situation. When Vietnam beat Syria on August 27, Vietnamese swarmed into the streets to celebrate, blowing their horns everywhere. I couldn't sleep all night wondering uneasily which team to support in the semi-final. After that night I made my decision: I will support Vietnam. I also feel guilty with Son Heung-min, South Korea’s key player, because if Vietnam win, he will have to do military service. 

How do you feel about publicly supporting the Vietnamese team when you are South Korea’s ambassador to Vietnam?

This is not the decision of an ambassador representing the government of South Korea; it's the decision of an individual who loves football and was charmed by the Vietnamese team’s style.

There are many South Koreans who love Vietnam and feel pride that the head coach of Vietnam is a South Korean, Mr Park Hang-seo. I think I am not the only one confused about which team to back this afternoon; many other South Koreans do too. 

I want to emphasize that I will be very happy whoever wins: South Korea is my country and Vietnam is my home. If Vietnam win, I will be very glad because I love the Vietnamese team and Park Hang-seo is my close friend. Their victory will enhance the friendship between South Korea and Vietnam.

What about the Vietnamese team's style that attracted you?

In their match against Syria, the Vietnamese showed that victory is not gained by luck but by perfect defending and using every opportunity to attack and score, revealing the determination of the team in particular and Vietnamese in general. In Vietnam’s recent matches, I realized your players use catenaccio, the strategy used by Italy in 1982, which helped them became the World Cup champion that year. 

I think Vietnam has written a new page in Asian football history. What we need to do now is support them with all our heart in the semi-final and possibly final.

I am a big fan of football. When I was studying in Cambridge University in the U.K. at a young age, I watched almost all matches there. After coming to Vietnam, my love for football was revived thanks to the love of the Vietnamese team and Vietnamese people.

I so admire Vietnamese people’s love for football and seeing them flock into the streets to celebrate the victory of their U23 team at the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championship in China at the beginning of this year. The Vietnamese team has been in my heart since then.

Who do you like most in the Vietnamese team?

I was so impressed by Quang Hai at the AFC U23. Overall, young Vietnamese players have the traits of trying their hardest until the end of the match, collaborating perfect and selflessness.

Park Hang-seo told me that young people around the world are now individualistic, so making players in a team understand each other and work together well is a very difficult task. However, the Vietnamese team has proven it is feasible and that precisely is their attraction. 

The Vietnam team has sent a message to young people around the world that we need to give up individualism.

Vietnamese players celebrated their victory over Syria on August 27. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnamese players celebrated their victory over Syria on August 27. Photo by VnExpress

Which team will win the Asiad title? 

Nothing is impossible in football. It's very hard to predict but I think we will have an unexpected result. 

One month ago Park told me that the Vietnamese team would try their best to win Japan and I did not believe that much. But now we know the result. Since South Korea have played in the Asiad many times and won, I think now it's Vietnam's turn.

How will you celebrate if Vietnam win?

I plan to go out to absorb the atmosphere on the streets. I want to wear the yellow-starred Vietnam flag T-shirt but it's not convenient for me. I think the winner of the semi-final will be the Asiad champion.

Do you have plans with Park Hang-seo? 

We're close friends, often hang out together and talk about football. I do not play football but I read a lot and we discussed a lot before Vietnam went to the Asiad.

Park has a football school in Lao Cai (in northern Vietnam) and wants to have two more in the central and southern parts of Vietnam. We are exchanging views on that and wish to make a contribution to the development of society in the region using football as a tool. We want to help poor Vietnamese children nourish their dreams of becoming football stars.

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