Over the last week or two we have been conducting interviews with overseas Spurs fans from around the world. We want to understand the level of support outside of England , and what it’s like to be a Tottenham fan living abroad.
Today we meet with Won Soulchan, a Spurs fan from Seoul.
OK to start off tell, us your name, and where you are from?
Hello, my name is Won, Soulchan. I’m from Seoul, Korea and have lived the whole 22 years of my life here.
Are you part of any supporters club, and if so, tell us a bit about it?
I lead the South Korea supporters club. We started as an online community and this is still our dominant, and most popular way to share everything ‘Spurs’ related. For this reason, we function as a big online community rather than as a supporters club.
How many members do you have? And do you meet often?
We have 5,500 members in our online community but for our supporters club, we have 1,000 people. Like I said, we mostly function as an online spurs community. Here in Korea, we have 8-9 hours of time difference with UK. Therefore, it’s hard to pick a date and watch games together since we mostly have games late at night in Korean time. But, when we do have some great game time, we gather around and watch the game together. We order Korean chickens and beers for the group. Last time we watched the North London Derby with the Korean Gunners which we won with Kane’s header at Wembley.
Where do you watch games? And how many people meet to watch?
Unfortunately for us, we don’t have any Spurs pub in Korea, Therefore, we pick a place we can use to watch the game with some food and borrow it for the group. Participating fans are variable depending on how big the place we borrow is and how good the game time is. We usually make 30-40 people per game.
Why Tottenham? How and why did you end up following Spurs?
I am fascinated by how the team grows and gets better. The club is in a completely different place compared to where we were 10 years ago. I really enjoyed seeing them getting better without ‘Big Money’ like some of others clubs do, and stick with our way to success. We proved ourselves in every different way and only thing we need now is a trophy.
Would you say that Spurs were a big club (in terms of support/fan base) in your part of the world?
In Korea, we started to watch Premier League games after 2002 World Cup which took place in Korea and we accomplished 4th in the competition. After that, we had Ji-Sung Park who played at United and Young-Pyo Lee who played at Spurs. That’s when the fan base started to grow and United has the biggest fan base since they had Park at the team and won a lot of trophies. It is followed by Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Spurs. Even though we had Lee playing here, we were not the dominant team in terms of fan base.
Is Tottenham’s profile growing in Korea?
Absolutely. As you can easily guess the reason, the presence of Sonny in our team makes a lot of people pay attention to Spurs. Plus, the fact we are getting better every season is another good reason to follow Tottenham. But sadly, I think a lot of people are still all about Son, and not about the team. Therefore, many Koreans blame some of the other players at Spurs without any justified reasons. Of course, there are great fans joining our fan group and we consider it a good thing.
Do you get to attend many live games? If so, how often?
Oh well, for me, I’ve never been to the UK. But many members of our group share photos and experiences they have had at White Hart Lane or Wembley. Since we are on the other side of the world here, watching live games is on the bucket list for most of us.
Do you have any sort of relationship with the club, and/or other supporters groups?
Yes, we do. Before the start of this season, Son brought Walker, Wimmer, and Davies to Korea. I know two of them are gone already but the club and their sponsor, AIA, contacted us to bring our members to the airport. We shared good times there as you can see on the picture. Also, when we do gatherings, AIA support us and provide some Spurs goods for the group.
Do you get many English Spurs fans visit Seoul? And if so, what is their response/reaction on seeing the local support?
I have some English Spurs fans connecting me when they visit here and I try my best to help. But unfortunately, there are not many things that I can do. Our gathering requires a lot of options and we have some limitations so I haven’t had a chance to invite a local fan, but I’d love to see them come here.
How would you describe Tottenham’s season so far? Are you happy with performances?
Yes, I think we are on a good run. We have shown what we are capable of in the Champions League and we are currently 4th in league. Hopefully we can finish in top four or above, and win FA Cup. It’d be wonderful to see these young players getting the trophy they deserve.
Which players have stood out for you the most this year?
I want to pick Vertonghen. Toby has suffered an injury for a very long time and Sanchez has done a good job but he showed some mistakes in each game he played. Because of these reasons, Jan had to do a lot of work in defense, and he has showed a lot of class defending for the team.
Are there any specific Tottenham players that are admired or particularly popular in your Korea?
Son, of course. As I mentioned, for a lot of non-Spurs football fans, it’s all about Son. Other than Son, I think everybody admires Harry Kane. He is doing very well every season and personally I am a big fan of his. Hope he gets the golden boot again!
How do you feel about the management of Tottenham since Mauricio Pochettino took over?
We call him ‘Godchettino.’ It’s kind of Korean trendy thing to put ‘god’ in front of someone who is doing a really good job in their field and I think he is one of them. Before he came here, we were unstable in many ways. Showed bad performance against teams like Liverpool and City and results were not consistent. Now, more often than not, most of the games are fun to watch. Also, we showed some very good performances against the world’s biggest teams, like against Real Madrid and Juventus.
How do you think that the new stadium will affect the club?
Positive. It’s always good to watch the photos of the new stadium building up. It will be a wonderful feeling to see Kane kick-off for the very first game at our new stadium.
And finally, anything you want to say or add?
I just want to say there are a lot of supporters on the other side of the world here in Korea. They might start to support the team because of Lee or Son, but we end up supporting ‘Tottenham’ as a team not only for a Korean player. Of course, it is great bonus while supporting Spurs and seeing Son doing very well at the team.