Football, or soccer as it’s known in some countries, is truly “the Global Game,” but accessing the world of English football news can be a daunting task for some Koreans. The cultural and linguistic divide means that getting the inside scoop on stories from the other side of the globe can be a challenge for the average Korean fan of the game.
A new video-cast aims to change all that. Footy Inside, more commonly known by its Korean name Waeshinnam ( 외신남, short for 외국 신문을 읽어주는 남자, which roughly translates to “foreign news-reading guy”), gives Koreans a unique insight into the hot issues that affect football. It burst onto the Korean video-cast scene in November, getting over 50,000 hits when it debuted on Naver.
Rather than being wholly in one language, Footy Inside’s format involves presenter Park Jong-yoon asking questions in Korean, with me answering them in English. Dual language subtitles help viewers understand what each presenter is saying. The weekly topics involve hard-to-find news from the English Premier League, discussions on issues affecting Asian football, along with more light-hearted topics like the top five most handsome players (not an Englishman in sight!) and weekly predictions (I shocked audiences in the first week by correctly guessing that Liverpool would beat Crystal Palace by four goals to two).
The brainchild behind the show is top Korean football agent Lee Dong-jun. Lee’s clients include many of the foreign players in the K-league, as well as Korean players in other Asian leagues, so naturally, he has a rather international outlook. When interviewed by Groove Magazine, he said that the reasons for creating Waeshinnam were twofold. First, despite not being religious, he went to English church as a child in order to have a chance to listen to spoken English. He hopes that Waeshinnam can help make Korean football more popular by attracting people who are interested in learning English. The second reason for the show’s creation was to give a fresh outlook on football. Korean media websites, by their very nature, don’t have detailed news about foreign sports leagues like the English Premier League. They have plenty of analysis of Korean players within those leagues, but only general news outside of that. Lee claims that Korean football fans want to get a more in-depth look into the English football leagues, and he hopes that Waeshinnam can provide such insight.
Lee also hopes that the show can help improve the popularity of the K-League, Korea’s national football league. Despite the popularity of the English Premier League in Korea, many K-League games are played to half-empty stadiums, and domestic football is a distant second to baseball when it comes to TV coverage. Lee feels that the star appeal of the EPL, where many big-name players and managers like Jose Mourinho ply their trade, makes it popular with Koreans who want to watch football at the highest level. In the long term, Lee hopes that the show can help spark an interest in the K-League and get regular fans talking about their own league as well as the EPL.
In order to achieve these dreams, Lee created Bigfoot TV (short for Biggest Football TV) and is creating a portfolio of shows including football skills show 90 Secs Football, among others. For Waeshinnam, Lee found SPO TV newscaster Park Jong-yoon to be the show’s Korean host. Park’s own podcast, Hidden Football, is one of the most popular sports podcasts in Korea. He goes by the English name Nick, and runs Korea’s Arsenal fan club. Due to my experience as a reporter for FIFA, and owner of the site www.kleaguefootball.com, Lee chose me as the English host.
Much of the show’s banter comes from the differences in opinion between me and Nick, for example, when trying to decide which footballer is the best-looking. The show’s other unique point is that it is willing to say what many other Korean football shows are afraid of saying, with both Nick and me giving strong opinions on issues such as the future of the Korean national team.
As well as talking about football in English, the show briefly teaches fans some English phrases, often football related, with Nick having to learn the phrases each week in order to avoid a forfeit.
The show usually airs on Friday night or Saturday morning, just in time for the weekend’s Premier League games. It will also contain plenty of K-League analysis and inside scoops once the Korean football season restarts in March. Footy fans can watch the show on Bigfoot TV’s YouTube channel by searching for “외신남.”
Check out: 외신남 : Footy Inside