The news from the South Korean camp is that Cho Gue-sung has had to turn off his phone.
It was all getting a bit too catapulted into a world of daily wedding planning.
Seo Jung-hwan, one of the crowd of South Korean journalists who could not understand what happened to their team’s No 9, said: “He needs to rest a little.” His phone was ringing at night. It kept him awake. He is trying to focus on football and, all the time, the messages are coming. “
In the space of a few days, the “insignificant actor” (his own words), has gone viral. Well, maybe not late strange, seeing as the player in question is a pop-star and, having scored two headed goals against Ghana in their second World Cup group match, it is more than just a pretty face.
Even so, it has also been a wild story. At the start of the competition he had 20,000 Instagram followers. At the time of writing it has 1.6 million. That’s even though he only has five posts and hasn’t posted since July.
As one of his new admirers wrote on Twitter: “When I first saw your Instagram account you had 40k, now you are on a million in a few days. Cho Gue-sung, mighty man you are! Thanks for two beautiful goals and making history today, king. Now, take my hand in marriage.
All that probably shows the power of the World Cup in the era of social media, internet memes and, in this case, hashtag hunks (193 million views, incidentally, for #choguesung on TikTok).
It’s number 9 bc there’s 1 you need 🤪#choguesung #worldcup #southkorea #fyp
♬ original sound – nana
Just imagine what happened when a South Korean journalist, Yim Hyun-su, posted a clip of Cho sitting on a bench, doing nothing more interesting than opening his arms to brush his hand on his left cheek. Yim predicts that Cho is about to see a “crazy boom in followers on Insta”. And he is right. That seven-second clip, meanwhile, has been viewed 7.3 million times. This is not your average story.
Cho Gue-sung’s fancam already has over 6M views lol pic.twitter.com/L4B2JI3Te1
– Hyunsu Yim (@hyunsuinseoul) November 28, 2022
Cho’s story has since been covered by the Indian Express, the Korea Herald and the Scottish Sun. Type her name into Google and it brings up ideas like “what type of woman Cho likes”, “Cho dating”, “Cho marriage” and “Cho Park”, with many fans comparing her looks to Park Seo-joon, award-winning actor and heart-throb in your right body.
Plus it helps that Cho comes across as the sweet boy next door. He is the only South Korean to score a goal in this tournament, but there is no penalty after the goal scored against Ghana. “I apologize to the fans who stayed late to watch the game,” said the 24-year-old, who has been spotted, with a beauty spot under his left eye, the same as South Korea’s most popular actor, Son Heung- min.
“South Korean fans have been known to give the most popular status to their footballers,” says Devon Rowcliffe, author of Who’s Eating All the Squid? Football Adventures in South Korea. “After the mania of the 2002 World Cup, midfielder Kim Nam-il became an overnight sex symbol. Lovers of women hold up the cards according to the exaggerations, offering marriage proposals or not to meet.”
Where to go next Athletes…
The interesting part is where all this could lead – modeling opportunities, TV commercials, maybe a blue sign for Cho on Instagram (yes, he doesn’t even have one yet) – and what comes next for an actor who is by a South. A Korean reporter born a “nobody” a year ago.
“Going from thousands of followers on social media to almost two million will definitely put brands on alert as they look to work with you to tap into that audience,” said Josh Hershman, a brand consultant with The Amazing List. of consumers from the end of entertainment.
“It will be interesting to see which brands to capitalize on and how your reach outside of Asia is affected. It’s also worth keeping an eye on how you build your profile from here. What does it stand for? What is it like over advertising? A building that will open more opportunities for him. ”
Hershman spoke as the managing director of Ten Toes, an agency that does its own research into how standing in a World Cup can dramatically change an athlete’s social media status. Richarlison, for example, added 3.85 million followers after scoring twice for Brazil in their opening game. Jude Bellingham placed over 120,500; Kylian Mbappe 96,700; Olivier Giroud 40,500; Enner Valencia 40,300; and Cody Gakpo 24,200.
The difference with Cho is that, unlike all the players listed above, he did not score in his team’s opening game. He didn’t even start the match. She came to people’s attention because of her appearance, and it’s not yet clear what she thinks about that, especially since she’s offline and doesn’t have anyone managing her social media accounts (not yet, anyway). He does though, for the record, have a girlfriend.
“It’s really only the World Cup that has the ability to instantly turn lesser-known players from all parts of the world into overnight stars,” Hershman said. “The World Cup is the biggest stage in world football, so if you do well you know the world is on you.”
His portfolio is growing and, sad though it may be for his army of new fans in South Korea, most players in his position want to follow new events abroad. At some point, you can even turn on your phone.
(Top image: design by Samuel Richardson; photo by Getty Images)