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Posted : 2008-05-14 17:20
Updated : 2008-05-14 17:20

Farewell to Dongdaemun Stadium


Dongdaemun Football Stadium, left, and the former site of the baseball park. The demolition of the football stadium began Wednesday, as the city government plans to build a design complex, plaza and park there.
/ Korea Times File

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

The ball was shot into the corner of the net, but drew no roaring cheers at Dongdaemun Football Stadium ― only claps from dozens of former soccer players and Seoul city officials. They were bidding farewell to the stadium, which is being torn down to be replaced by a design complex, plaza and park.

Dongdaemun Stadium, the nation's first modern sports facility, is fading from Korea's sports history ― the demolition of the football stadium began Wednesday following that of the baseball stadium last month.

Built in 1926 during Japanese colonial rule, it was the symbol of Korea's modern sports, with various international matches and sports events held there until the Jamsil Sports Complex took over the role in the mid 1980s.

The good old days are gone. The aged football stadium was closed in March 2003 and used as a parking lot and folk market. Matches were held at the baseball stadium until recently, but very rarely.

The demolition of the baseball stadium, which was a Mecca for high school baseball, was completed last month.

Ahead of the destruction of the football stadium, a ``Goodbye, Dongdaemun Stadium'' ceremony was held.

Watching video clips featuring the stadium's past, present and future, city officials and some 30 former national football team members bade farewell to the sports arena.

The dignitaries kicked footballs, the last ones in the stadium ― and the ceremony ended with the removal of its huge clock.

At the request of sportsmen, two lighting towers will remain standing.

Kim Hak-jong, a 37-year-old office worker who attended high school near Dongdaemun, recalled his school team at a national high school championship baseball match in 1988.

``All students used to prepare for cheering together. High school baseball is not very popular these days, but at that time in the 1980s, it was the best school event. A baseball team was the pride of the school. Now with all the pleasant memories, I feel sorry that the stadium will disappear,'' Kim said.

Internet users also expressed regrets over the demolition.

``The nation now has many football stadiums thanks to the World Cup in 2002. But it is sad that Dongdamun Stadium will be gone forever. From former football players who already passed away to current young players and football fans, all football people will never forget the stadium, which has cultivated Korean football for a century,'' said a Netizen named Lee Eui-jae.

rahnita@koreatimes.co.kr

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