Since the arrival of the trophy in Seoul last week, the atmosphere here has been simmering just in time for the Official Draw on Thursday 17 May 2007. It has been nearly five years since Korea Republic co-hosted the FIFA World Cup™, but the land of the morning calm is getting ready to wake up once again.
Tounament mascot and posters were unveiled before the ceremony in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The mascot, named Shooting Star, has a blue star-shaped body with a smiling face in the form of red taeguk, a traditional Korean symbol also used in the national flag.
The show began with a breathtaking drum performance, with the now-famous chants "Dae-han-min-guk (Korea Republic)" echoing inside the Grand Ballroom. Among the 300-strong crowd who filled the room were Chung Mong-Joon, President of the KFA and FIFA vice-president, Kim Jong-Min, Minister of Culture and Tourism, plus representatives from the 24 qualified teams, and guests from the official FIFA partners.
Then the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy was handed over from Organising Committee Chairman Jack Warner to the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Chung Dong-Chea. He said: "I hope this World Cup will be a good chance to promote football in Korea and develop our infrastructure as well."
Jim Brown, FIFA's Head of Competitions, took the centre stage assisted by four special guests from the host country: Kim Dong-Cheol, captain of the U-17 team, Ji So-Yun, the youngest ever player in the women's national team, actress Lee Yoon-Ji, and a boy named Kim Byung-Seop who is dreaming of becoming a footballer while battling against cancer.
As the draw was about to begin, the official match ball, Adidas +Teamgeist L/F, was handed to the coach of Korea Republic U-17 team, Park Kyung-Hoon. With the ball in hands, he said: "I couldn't sleep well last night because I was so nervous. But I had a dream - I saw a ray of light coming down from the dark sky, and I can't wait to see what it meant!"
Reflecting on the Draw, Chung Dong-Chea said: "Now it's time to prepare for the finals. We're hoping to attract young people to the stadiums, as the ticket prices are inexpensive - as low as 2,000 wons (approximately $2 USD). We are interested in the development of football, not the profits, because this is a youth tournament."