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Olympic fever heats up London

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are just around the corner, set to kick off at 5 a.m. on July 28 (Korean Standard Time). Most of the events participated in by Korean athletes will air in the evenings due to the eight-hour time difference between Korea and London, meaning sleepless nights for sports fans throughout the 17-day run. The first Korean team to start off on the Olympic journey will be the football team, who will take on Mexico for the first round of the tournament on July 26 (10:30 p.m. Korean Standard Time), followed by a second-round match against Switzerland on July 30 (1:15 a.m.) and a third round with Gabon on August 2 (1:00 a.m.). The Korean footballers, dubbed the Taegeuk Warriors, are gearing up to vie for what may be Korea’s first medal this year.

Korean team to start off this year's Olympic journey will be the football teamThe first Korean team to start off this year's Olympic journey will be the football team, who will play against Mexico for the first round of the tournament on July 26 (photo: Gonggam Korea).

Sports fans expect that a first gold medal will be won sometime between July 28 and 29, which will be filled with events featuring some of Korea’s top medal contenders, such as shooting, judo, archery, fencing, and swimming. On July 28, the second official day of the Olympic Games, Jin Jong-oh will shoot for the gold in the ten-meter air pistol competition. The next day will see judoka Choi Gwang-hyun, who has been assessed as a promising contender, take his place on the judo met. Team Korea will also see archer Im Dong-hyun, two-time gold medalist, who topped his events in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, make his bid for a three-title winning streak.

The highlight matchup will be the 400-meter freestyle swimming event featuring Korean aquatics star Park Tae-hwan on July 29 (3:50 a.m.). Park has recently been the center of much attention and speculation as to whether he will be able to break the current world record to become the top.

In London, with just a few days to go before the games officially begin, cheering for the athletes is already being heard throughout the city.

opening day of the 2012 London Olympics draws nearAs opening day of the 2012 London Olympics draws near, cheering events and other festivities have started taking place across the city. Pictured, a London street has been newly decorated with flags of various countries (photo courtesy of Worldwide Korea Bloggers). 

Last week, the Korean cheering team, mainly comprised of British-national K-pop fans, showed up in Trafalgar Square, all decked out in uniform to stage a flash mob featuring K-pop songs in a celebration of ten days to go to the start of the games.

The flash mob was organized by local K-pop fans who created a Facebook page named ‘Go Korea’ through which participants and volunteers were coordinated. Their activities give a spark to Korean athletes who are about to start the long journey.

The Korean Culture Center also contributed to the movement, transforming its space into a singing room for the day. The cheering team was given a chance to learn about Korean songs including cheering anthems designed for the Olympics. Some of the enthusiastic fans prepared an opening performance singing and dancing to K-pop songs.

Previously on April 17, London’s iconic double-decker bus helped to publicize a festival titled “All Eyes on Korea” going on a city tour around Westminster Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and more to mark the 100-day countdown to the London Olympics. Later on June 26, the second round of outdoor campaigns of the same kind was carried out to mark the 30-day countdown. The supporters made stopovers at a few stations during the march, reaching a population of over 3 million local people.

K-pop fans wearing masks of various Korean athletesK-pop fans wearing masks of various Korean athletes gather to wish the Korean Team a great performance at the upcoming Olympics (photo courtesy of KCCUK).

Staying in the flow, the Korean Culture Center in London plans to continue organizing a variety of cheering events until September 8. The schedule begins on July 26 in time for the football match against Mexico. The cheering activities will continue throughout the Olympic period and anybody interested is able to book a seat at the Korea Culture Center in London, or on KCCUK facebook page.

By Lee Seung-ah Staff Writer

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