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Gearing up for the World Cup, Ji-Sung Park fan site launches its online forum
By Mark Saunders
The largest fan site of the famous South Korean footballer, Ji-Sung
Park, has launched an online forum to deal with its many thousand of daily
visitors- with the excitement of the World Cup building all the time-
at an alarming space. The South Korean football world is growing close
to a frenzy and their hopes rely on Ji-Sung Park even more
Already a hugely popular fan site (the no.1 site in Google, Yahoo and
MSN for any Park-related enquiry one could imagine)- with over 3,000
visitors per day, http://www.ji-sungpark.com has had to think of ways to
cater to the large percentage of its visitors who are from South Korea.
Apart from integrating an online South Korean translator, site owner
Robert Brookes is constantly thinking of new ways to keep his site
visitors. Recent additions and events have included: an online quiz for a
Ji-Sung Park t-shirt, a comprehensive article inventory and a preview of
the World Cup in Germany, focusing on South Korea, some uniquely design
Ji-Sung Park wallpapers available for free download, live video feeds
and perhaps most exciting of all- a charitable auction for a hand-signed
Ji-Sung Park no.13 Manchester United shirt.
But where could the site communicate and interact with its huge
following- being the only true and comprehensive presence of Ji-Sung Park
online? Simple: start up a forum. And that is exactly what site owner and
lifelong Man Utd. fan, Robert Brookes has done:
As Brookes says: 'I want our South Korean guests to feel welcome and
comfortable and not be inhibited by English that isn't perfect. Mine
isn't either!! The point is to chat about Park and his remarkable
achievements- not just in a footballing sense- but also in his attitude and life
story, one of courage, determination and single-mindedness against the
Ji-Sung Park himself is already talking up South Korea's chances at the
imminent World Cup in Germany this coming June. Quoted in the Korean
press recently, he said:
"I am certain we can go even beyond the round of 16. We're all
determined to prove to the world that what happened in 2002 was not the product
of luck and home advantage."
The new forum at http://www.ji-sungpark.com/forum/ is taking bets….
But what of the player himself? So famous that he has had a road named
after him in his native town of Suwon and now playing for the most
famous club in the world….
Park bench? This was the nickname that was mooted for Ji-Sung Park when
he went to England and Manchester United last summer. Fans of the more
cynical persuasion -- and football fans are not known for lacking that
trait -- felt that the signing of the Korean was as much due to his
ability to sell shirts than what he could do on the field.
United's season is now nearly over and with the team on a great run,
finally putting some pressure on Chelsea, it seems a good time to look at
how the "new engine," as he has been named in the Korean media, is
doing in the northwest of England.
The verdict has to be pretty good. The 24-year-old should be satisfied
with his performance since the season started last August. A look at
the amount of playing time that the player has enjoyed suggests that Park
is a valuable part of the squad, but not yet an automatic starter.
Reporters talk of "first names that the coach writes on the team sheet"
and while Park isn't one of those at United- yet, that title doesn't
belong to many of his teammates either. Perhaps only goalkeeper Van Der
Sar, defenders Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand and striker Wayne Rooney
can be secure in the knowledge that unless they are being rested for a
forthcoming game, they will be starting on the pitch. Even the prolific
Ruud Van Nistelrooy discovered to his apparent amazement that he cannot
assume first team selection every match.
Park lies in between that select group and the backup players. He
always plays some part in the game but is never quite sure of how many
minutes he will spend sitting on the bench (one that is heated at United!)
or on the other, more active, side of the white line.
Out of the Red Devils first 34 games this season, the Korean star has
been available for selection for all but two, due to a knee injury. He
has seen action in 29 matches, a surprising statistic for those,
including Guus Hiddink, who said that his former protege would be wasting his
time at Old Trafford.
"Park will be a waste of time at Manchester," said the PSV coach when
"Ji," as he his known by his new teammates, signed for the two-time
"He will spend most of his time on the bench; it was not a wise
decision for him to go. The Brazilian midfielder Kleberson is a good example
for Park, he went to United and was a failure. Park should have stayed
with PSV for another year."
Those comments are beginning to sound less and less like the wisdom
Koreans expect to come from the Dutchman's mouth and more like sour grapes
as the season has progressed.
Although Park is not yet an automatic starter for the club, for those
who have followed his career there is an expectation of better to come.
After a slow start at PSV, his progression was almost meteoric. It is
now the United players whose can be heard singing the praises of their
hard-working teammate. And this most of all after his winning goal
against Arsenal recently!
Despite the language barrier, Park has demonstrated a wicked sense of
"I may not be as handsome as Beckham but I feel I could be just as good
as he is," he said last month. "I understand the pressure of coming to
Manchester United and the expectation of the fans over here. I want to
show my value to United in terms of my ability, not for some marketing
strategy in Asia."
He has already shown that he has more to offer than providing an "in"
to the Asian market. It remains to be seen if he can take the next step;
making himself an indispensable part of the Manchester United team and
rise again to such dizzy heights in this year's World Cup in Germany.
Perhaps this partly explains the unfathomable success of
http://www.ji-sungpark.com and it's new forum
About the Author
Robert Brookes is a lifelong Manchester United fan and has created the
unofficial fan site, http://www.ji-sungpark.com and it's new forum
http://www.ji-sungpark.com/forum/ as a way of bridging the massive
support Manchester United receives in South East Asia into the online
English market. He also owns the top Man United blog,
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