From the Stands: Taking a Look at Seoul E-Land's Newest Fan Group 'Guncheong'

From the Stands: Taking a Look at Seoul E-Land's Newest Fan Group 'Guncheong'
From the Stands: Taking a Look at Seoul E-Land's Newest Fan Group 'Guncheong'

As Seoul E-Land enters into their 10th anniversary as an outfit in the K League 2. Many fans have walked through the turnstiles at Leoul Park to support the mighty Blue Leopards. May it have been in Seoul Olympic Stadium in Jamsil, or Mokdong Stadium on the other side of town, many have watched Seoul with passion and pride.

Fast forward to 2024 and a new interesting aspect for the club has recently been established. An aspect that is especially positive for the fans in the stands. A new supporter group has been formed to lead Seoul to victory and that group's name is 'Guncheong'.  Michael Redmond had a sit down with one of their leaders Ji Seung-bin this week, to discuss their creation, their intention, and what to expect to be seen on the stand this year at Leoul Park.

Michael Asks Ji Seung-bin

Michael: What inspired the creation of the Guncheong fan group?

Ji: It had been almost a decade since the foundation of the club, but unfortunately the club didn't have a decent supporters group. Honestly, I wasn't quite a person to make things change by then. However, there was a trigger that switched my mind.

It was a home game against FC Anyang, which has a great amount of supporters in K League 2, on the 25th of June. Those purple shirts were loud and enthusiastic, but on the other hand, we had very little sound from the stand. Nobody was clapping and nobody was chanting. After I saw the huge gap between the two clubs, I believed that we needed to change. But I wasn't quite sure if I could do that by then.

To add insult to injury, on the day against Gimpo FC at Mokdong Leoul Park 18th of July, Gimpo FC was a really good team, but they didn't have a big fan group. However, as soon as they started chanting, things were loud from the away section. There weren't many in attendance but they were loud and my club was still quiet as usual. After looking at what I saw as a tragedy, I decided to change the current atmosphere in Mokdong Leoul Park. But how do I do that?

First I tried to find the head of "Nuevo", the loose kind of fan group, and discuss enhancing the club's supporting culture. So then we could open a forum about it in that summer. However, the forum didn't go well enough. I soon realized that I couldn't rely on others anymore. So I made a choice to make a new group of supporters, which focuses on the supporting culture. Right after the forum was dismissed, I gathered some people who were interested in the same idea as me. That was the birth of "Guncheong", the supporters' group of SEFC.

Michael: Can you tell us about the meaning behind the name "Guncheong" and its significance to Seoul E-Land?

Ji: "Guncheong" is one of the names of a dark blue colour. Similar to English, there are a lot of ways to call dark blue, such as namsaek and gamsaek. The reason why we chose 'Guncheong' as a name is because the meaning was suitable for a group of fans. If we look closer at the name, each Hanja (Chinese Character) means "Group/Crowd" and "Blue". As the symbolic colour of Seoul E-Land FC is blue, for us it was an easy choice. Then we've thought about the English meaning. If we search for the word Guncheong on the internet, it translates into the English word "Ultramarine". Ultramarine was an extremely precious material, made from stone lapis lazuli. The meaning was great for us both in Korean and English.

Michael: What are the primary goals and objectives of the Guncheong fan group?

Ji: Our objective is really clear. The reason we've gathered was to enhance Seoul E-Land's fan culture. Chanting and clapping wherever Seoul E-Land's playing, regardless of home games and away games. We don't have a large fan base yet, but we'll keep our head forward to make things happen.

Michael: How does the Guncheong fan group plan to support and promote Seoul E-Land?

Ji: Because we wanted to change the atmosphere at the stadium, we started to create elements including the use of materials and non-materials. First, we made a flag that represents ourselves. The flag has an Asian-style leopard's face at the centre and put phrases in each corner that mean "The spirit of the fierce leopard“. And we also made new banners to promote Seoul's players. The main banner says "Our shouts may fill Seoul".

We also made new chants because we only had a few before. As the melodies and lyrics were becoming outdated, we had the same record used in front of the fans in the Jamsil Olympic Stadium. Which is the original home stadium for Seoul E-Land FC, currently under construction. Records were posted via Instagram and YouTube to promote to our fans, who wanted to join us potentially in the future.

Furthermore, we planned a performance as the day of the Seoul derby was coming. Seoul E-Land FC is a smaller club compared to FC Seoul, a regional rival team. FC Seoul's representative colours were red and black. We knew that what is more likely to come up in many people's minds if they're asked what is the colour of Seoul's football team? So we wanted to face this situation. We wanted to overcome and dominate Seoul moreover.

As SEFC's colour is blue, we needed a phrase using it. After some discussion between members, we chose our phrase for the derby day. "MAKE SEOUL BLUE". Even though Seoul E-Land lost against the red and black team, we were confident and were convinced that we can still change and promote the club.

Michael: What kind of activities or events does the Guncheong fan group organize for its members?

Ji: Now I got to tell you a little bit of an out-of-football ground story. As we're based in South Korea, it is quite efficient to bond people with hwesiks, which is where people meet to drink and talk after an event or work. No matter how the game was, I always tried to make such events for members. Of course, there's always soju and beer in this kind of event, but it is not necessary to participate or drink alcohol. As the event's main purpose is to bond people, I'll never force them to do something members don't want to.

And we made our own items such as scarves and bucket hats, only for our members. Of course, these aren't obliged to get. Furthermore, there could be a workshop within this summer. It is not fixed yet but I really hope these kinds of activities will bond our members stronger.

Michael: How has the response been from fans since the formation of the Guncheong fan group?

Ji: The response from fans to Guncheong was greater than I expected. After the formation of the group and promotion via Instagram, many recognized us and sent support to us. But to be honest, the participation in support hasn't fulfilled my expectations so far. This means we still have a lot to do.

Michael: Can you describe the atmosphere at Seoul E-Land matches with the presence of the Guncheong fan group?

Ji: If I compare the time before and after the presence of Guncheong, I can say in confidence that we made a difference and made it better than before. We now have more chants that can fill 90 minutes, and more flags and banners that has refreshed the atmosphere in Mokdong. Yes, but still as I said before, we still need more people to join and support together. My dream is that the stadium is filled in blue, chants are loud, and fans are strongly bonded. I really wish this dream comes true, and keep on fighting to make things happen.