The Korean thanksgiving holiday is a time to spend with family and pay respects to ancestors that have passed away. What it is not, is a time to do any unnecessary travel. More than half the nation moves around the southern half of the peninsula to visit hometowns. The nightly television news programs all start by broadcasting the same pictures with relish. The first is of the full harvest moon, an image followed by shots of expressways that are equally bloated.
Mounting journey times between major cities are gravely but breathlessly relayed to those lucky enough to be sat in their own homes. The barometer is Seoul-Busan. It usually takes around five hours to drive from the capital to the south coast port but during ‘Chuseok’, that will only get you about halfway.
That was the point that the Asian Champions quarter-final between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Urawa Reds was at on the last day of the harvest festivities with the second leg action due to take place in Korea.
Urawa fans at Jeonju World Cup Stadium
A week previously in Saitama, the Japanese champions had given the Asian champions a footballing lesson. If the two-goal lead that the Reds enjoyed for much of the game had been carried over the East Sea and into South Korea for the second leg, Urawa coach Holger Osieck would have been delighted though perhaps a little disappointed that the J-League leaders hadn’t managed more. As it was, Jeonbuk’s veteran defender Choi Jin-cheul popped up at the last minute to give the visitors a vital away goal and a good deal of hope.
Jeonbuk Motors fans
The smart money was still on Urawa to progress but only just. Jeonbuk had shown while winning the competition a …