The dawn of the 21st century was not the brightest of days for South Korea, still hampered by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which cost thousands their jobs and bankrupted companies across the country.
But in 2002, Koreans received an unexpected boost in morale when their national soccer team beat the odds to make an improbable run to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup hosted jointly by South Korea and Japan.
The surge of the Taegeuk Warriors on the world's biggest soccer stage brought the country to a state of euphoria and national pride that is still remembered fondly today.
“There was the sense of ‘We can do it!’ that united the whole country,” said Choe Sang-hun, a former reporter at The Korea Herald, now Seoul bureau chief for the New York Times.
“Korea Triumphs,” reads the top story for the June 19, 2002 edition of The Korea Herald, which tells how the South Korean squad bested the favored Azzurri, or Blues -- referring to the Italian team -- in an overtime thriller at Daejeon World Cup Stadium to advance to the round of eight.
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