Everyone in South Korea knows of the longstanding rivalry between Korea University and Yonsei University. GoYonJon[고연전] (or, if you’re from Yonsei, sometimes YonGoJon[연고전] is more common) is quite possibly the biggest sporting event of the year for KU and Yonsei in which they compete against each other in a series of matches over two days. I have been incredibility lucky to take part in such a historic event and it was quite possibly some of the best days I have had in Korea so far. The games consist of 5 sports; baseball, basketball, ice hockey, rugby and football.
As well as the actual games being played, the next biggest aspect of the games is the audience participation via cheering. Despite their cheerleaders probably being compared to a sideline cheer team is western terms, as a competitive cheerleader myself, I was amazed and inspired but the energy and dedication they put into their roles. Korean cheerleaders are another level of awesome. Cheers in Korea are basically songs played by a live band and costumed cheerleaders dance and do actions to the songs for the audience to follow. Another set of cheerleaders do flag routines next to the cheerleaders in costume. The moves can range from intense head banging to chicken moves at the other team…(my back and neck still hurt from all the head banging). I lost count of the amount of songs we sang but it was around 20, maybe more, all with wonderful dance moves. The lyrics all praised KU as the best looking, most intelligent etc and Yonsei as pitiful and annoying, (all in good sport ofc). At half time, all the cheerleaders came onto the pitch and performed so we could stay and carry on cheering or go and get food, drinks etc.
The matches took place in various stadiums, and unfortunately due to limited seats I did not get to watch all the matches live, however they are also shown on tv so for basketball and ice hockey, people were still able to watch and follow. We even did the cheers when we scored despite sitting on the floor in front of a screen! I have never felt so part of a team before and it was awesome to see how devoted all the students were to their university and there sports teams. KU won baseball and basketball, whilst Yonsei won ice hockey and rugby. Football was a draw therefore the overall results were a tie. Meaning that Korea has not lost to Yonsei overall for five years, a pretty impressive feat! At the end, everyone ran on to the stadium pitch got into large circles and started doing to cheers again together. The best part about this was that Yonsei also joined us so the groups were a wonderful mixture of reds and blues all singing and head banging together. An awesome reminder that despite the fact our rivalry can get heated, we can still join together and have fun.
Once all the matches were over, there was an ‘after party’ back near the university. Lots of the restaurants and bars had banners outside welcoming all KU students and some even had free food and alcohol which if you asked nicely enough, they would give you. Apparently, tradition is to make a train of people and run around the different restaurants trying to get as much free food and drink as possible. To add to the unexpectedness of the day, the Dean AND the President of Korea University paid a visit to the bar we were sitting in and did a toast with us which was insane and very surreal. naturally after that in true Korean style we went somewhere else to drink, until the early 6am starts to get good stadium seats took toll on us and we all went home for a long sleep. Deep Heat muscle rub by the bedside ready for the unbearable aching and back pain that would greet us the next day.
I took over 800 photos over the two days, so here is a select few of the crowds, my friends and I and the cheerleaders to give you an idea of just how immense and unforgettable the event was.