Bangladeshi chemist Abu Kowsir said South Korea gave his family prosperity — so the least he can do is cheer on his benefactors when they begin their World Cup campaign this week.
He and his wife, Sabina Kowsir, have amused and confused their neighbors by stitching together South Korean flags into a 3.5km long banner that weaves a path from their home, along nearby streets and over a river into a neighboring village.
The extravagant tribute cost them US$5,000 and testifies to Abu Kowsir’s love of a country where he spent much of his adult life as a migrant worker.
“We love South Korea and this is how we chose to support the team,” Sabina Kowsir, 34, said. “We will keep supporting them and will pray for their victory.”
Sabina Kowsir has never been to the country where her husband toiled in factories for 15 years, but was intoxicated by the “great tales” he brought home from his time in the industrial giant.
“Whenever my husband came home from South Korea, he would tell me about the culture, discipline and beauty of the country,” she said. “I truly loved those stories. I consider South Korea my dream place to visit.”
In the South Korean factory where he worked, Abu Kowsir was responsible for scraping components out of used handsets and other consumer goods, melting down gold and preparing it for resale.
The long stretch abroad gave Abu Kowsir, 45, the resources to start his own jewelry business at home and he credits his labor there for helping propel his family into the country’s middle classes.
He first set his allegiance after watching the 2002 World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, where he was awed by the feats of star midfielder Yoon Jong-hwan.
“Jong-hwan was my favorite player, he was brilliant,” Abu Kowsir said at his home.
He said it took tailors two weeks to sew the banner, which was partially bankrolled by his decision to sell a mango orchard he inherited from his father.
Its unfurling has caused a local stir on social media, with thousands of people visiting to catch a glimpse of it in person — even if they do not quite understand the reasoning behind the costly endeavor.
“They are crazy, spending so much money just to show their love for their team,” neighbor Mohammad Akash said. “People are coming to our village from all over just to see.”
Bangladesh is better known for its love of cricket, with its soccer team ranked 192nd globally and never qualifying for the premier international tournament. Every four years, the World Cup still arouses feverish passions in the South Asian nation, where powerhouses Brazil and Argentina have a huge following.
Some die-hard supporters spend fortunes painting their homes in the national colors of their teams.
The ostentatious rivalry has occasionally turned violent. During the last Cup in 2018, rival followers of Lionel Messi and Neymar clashed with machetes in the central town of Bandar, leaving two people critically wounded.
South Korea, ranked 28th, faces an uphill battle against Uruguay when its campaign begins on Thursday, and the daunting prospect of a showdown with Portugal later in the group stage.
Abu Kowsir said he has been gently ribbed by neighbors about his side’s dim prospects while drinking at a local tea stall, but he remains philosophical.
“There’s victory and defeat in every game,” he said. “As a Korean supporter, I hope they will play well. Even if they cannot reach the final, I will still support them.”
Germany forward Thomas Mueller on Thursday said that his country’s second successive first-round exit from the FIFA World Cup was an “absolute catastrophe,” which teammate Kai Havertz likened to “watching a horror movie.” Germany beat Costa Rica, but Spain’s defeat to Japan meant Germany finished third in Group E behind Spain, with the teams equal on four points and the positions decided only by goal difference. “It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough,” Mueller said. “It’s a feeling of powerlessness.” Mueller was part of the 2014 World Cup-winning team and was also in the side who were
Taiwanese-American basketballer Jeremy Lin, who plays for a Chinese team, was fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,400) for “inappropriate remarks” on social media about quarantine facilities ahead of a game, the China Basketball Association said yesterday. Lin, who plays for the Loong Lions Basketball Club, made “inappropriate remarks about quarantine hotel-related facilities” where the team stayed on Wednesday ahead of a game, the association said. It said that “caused adverse effects on the league and the competition area.” The Chinese Communist Party is trying to crush criticism of the human cost and disruption of its “zero COVID-19” strategy, which has confined millions of people to
Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying yesterday claimed her first victory at the season-ending Badminton World Tour (BWF) Finals, while Chou Tien-chen lost his second match in the men’s singles at the Nimibutr Arena in Bangkok. Tai on Wednesday lost in her first outing at the Badminton World Federation event against China’s He Bingjiao and was forced to work hard against home hope Busanan Ongbamrungphan yesterday, winning 22-20, 21-16 in 43 minutes. Game 1 was in the balance at 17-17 when Ongbamrungphan seemed to run out of patience in a long rally, putting a shot out of bounds from a stable position and in the
Taiwan’s top two badminton players, Tai Tzu-ying and Chou Tien-chen, are today to compete at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok. Tai, who is world No. 3 in women’s singles, is to compete in Group B in the eight-player draw with world No. 5 He Bingjiao of China, and world No. 7 Ratchanok Intanon and world No. 10 Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand. Group A features world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, world No. 2 An Se-young of South Korea, world No. 4 Chen Yufei of China and world No. 18 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia. Tai, who has struggled at