Park Chu-young vs Japan: 2012 London Olympics
It was August 10th of 2012 London, when Chu-young Park, the Arsenal FC forward (at the time) scored this amazing solo goal against Japan. It was the game after Korea lost to Brazil in the semi-finals and Bronze medal was on the line. It was minute 37 of the first half and Korean Olympics team beat Japan 2-0 and won the Bronze medal.
I should be honest. I admit that not many people excluding people in Korea and Japan would consider this goal as a momentous goal, if any of them remembered this. Yet, for Koreans, this goal is considered as one of the most significant goals in the history of Korean football. In this report, I would like to highlight the reasons.
First Olympics Medal won with football
First of all, the outcome of this match was historic itself since it brought Korea the very first Olympics medal won with football. The Korean Olympics team made splendid achievement of beating Switzerland and the very first “united” Great Britain team on their way to winning the Bronze medal.
Korea vs Japan Derby
As some people may know, Korea and Japan have a long and ill-fated history. From early 1900s to the end of WWII, Japan enforced a colonial occupation of Korea. Since then, Korea vs Japan match, no matter which type of sports, has been the El Clasico for Koreans and Japanese. As much as Koreans would remember this goal as a symbol of our fantastic triumph, the Japanese would remember this moment as one of the most humiliating moments in their football history.
The Guillotine Match – the tragedy of conscription system in Korea
Last but not least, besides all the details I mentioned above, there was a single most important reason the Korean press was calling this match the “Guillotine Match.” In Korea, all male citizens with healthy enough bodies are obligated to serve the military for two years. This, by far, is the most problematic system for athletes as the two-year service should happen before they turn 30. It does not matter if that athlete is in his prime time in the age of 28 or 29. The ministry of national defense does not care.
However, there are two exceptions made for athletes who are considered to have raised the honor of Republic of Korea; winning a medal in the Olympics or winning a GOLD medal in the Asian Games. In other words, every two years, 18 Korean football players are given a chance to win the lucky ticket. And the 2012 London Olympics Bronze medal match against Japan was the very first opportunity for the 18 players on the roster to win that ticket from the Olympics. That was the reason this match was called the “Guillotine Match” to those 18 players.
Chu-young Park was the James Bond, Jack Bauer, or whatever you want to call him that saved the ship of 18 soldiers. One more detail that made this goal even more dramatic was that Chu-young Park was at the time the most spotlighted controversial figure with regard to the conscription system since he was being accused by the press that he illegally tried to evade the conscription. Yet, with this remarkable solo goal, he successfully cleared out his disgrace at once.