Cho Gue-sung, the South Korea striker who went viral at the World Cup — for being handsome

The news from South Korea’s camp is that Cho Gue-sung had to turn off his phone.

It’s too much to be immersed in a world of daily marriage proposals.

“He needs to rest,” said Seo Jung-hwan, one of a crowd of South Korean journalists who could not understand what had happened to their team’s No. 9. “His phone is going all night. It’s keeping him awake. He’s trying to think about football and, all the time, the messages are coming.”

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In a few days, this “important player” (in his own words), has gone elsewhere. Well, maybe not that On the contrary, although the player in question has pop-star features and, having scored two goals against Ghana in their second World Cup match, it is more of a beautiful face.

Cho Gue-sung

Cho Gue-sung in action for South Korea against Ghana (Photo: Shaun Botterill/ FIFA via Getty Images)

Regardless, it’s still a wild story. At the start of the competition he had 20,000 followers on Instagram. At the time of writing it has 1.6 million. 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 his Instagram account was 40k, now he has a million in a few days. Cho Gue-sung, you are a strong man! Thank you for the two beautiful goals and the historic feat today, my lord. Now, accept my hand in marriage.

All this shows the power of the World Cup this year of social media, internet memes and, in this case, hashtag hunks (193 million views, for #choguesung on TikTok).


He’s number 9 bc im the 1 he needs 🤪#choguesung #worldcup #southkorea #fyp

♬ original sound – look

Just imagine what happened when a South Korean journalist, Yim Hyun-su, posted a photo of Cho sitting on a couch, nothing more interesting than opening her arms to brush her hand on his left cheek. Yim predicted that Cho is about to see “a huge increase in followers on Insta”. And he was right. That seven-second clip, however, has been viewed 7.3 million times. This is not your average story.

Cho’s story has been covered by the Indian Express, the Korea Herald and the Scottish Sun. Enter his name in Google and bring up ideas such as “Cho’s favorite type of woman”, “Cho dating”, “Cho marriage” and “Cho Park”, along with many fans. matching his looks to Park Seo-joon, an award-winning actor and a heartthrob in his own right.

Also, it helps that Cho is a good boy. He is the only South Korean to score in this tournament, but there is no room for pride after his goals against Ghana. “I apologize to the fans who stayed up at night to watch the game,” said the 24-year-old who, it was revealed, has a beautiful spot under his left eye, like the famous player of South Korea, Son. Heung-min.

“South Korean fans are known to bestow superstar status on their footballers,” says Devon Rowcliffe, author of Who Ate All the Squid? Soccer tours in South Korea. “After the mania of the 2002 World Cup, the midfielder Kim Nam-il became a dream symbol overnight. Female fans would hold posters in the games with euphemisms, giving sexual feelings or unsuitable companies.

Where to go The Athletic

The interesting part is where all this leads – modeling opportunities, TV commercials, or a blue screen for Cho on Instagram (yes, he doesn’t have one) – and what’s next for a player described by a South Korean journalist as “no one” a year ago.

“Going from a few thousand on social media to nearly two million requires brands to focus on how they’re looking to work with that audience,” said Josh Hershman, a branding specialist with a list of clients from the very top of the sport.

“It will be interesting to see what brands look to expand and how long it will take outside of Asia. It will also be interesting to see how it builds its profile from here. What does it stand for? What is he like off the pitch? The build-up will open up more opportunities for him.”

Hershman said as the director of Ten Toes Media, a company that has done its own research on how standing in the World Cup can make a big difference in a player’s situation. Richarlison, for example, added 3.85 million followers after scoring twice for Brazil in their opening game. Jude Bellingham placed 120,500; Kylian Mbappe 96,700; Olivier Giroud 40,500; Enner Valencia 40,300; and Cody Gakpo 24,200.

Cho Gue-sung

Cho Gue-sung after scoring a second for Korea against Ghana (Photo: Alex Grimm via Getty Images)

The difference with Cho is that, unlike all the players listed above, he did not score in his team’s opening game. He did not start the game. He came into the public eye because of his looks, and it’s not clear what he thinks about it, mostly because he’s offline and nobody controls his accounts. social (not yet). However, for the record, he does have a girlfriend.

“The World Cup is the only thing that can bring so many little-known players from all over the world closer to disaster,” Hershman said. “The World Cup is the biggest stage of world football, so if you play well, you know the eyes of the world are on you.”

There are reports linking Cho with Glasgow’s Celtic, Turkish side Fenerbahce, and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. He is on the books of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, based in the city of Jeonju, and was the top scorer in the last K League competition. He also helped his team win the Korean FA Cup, scoring three times over the final two legs. Cho was selected for the K-League Best XI and has six goals in his 18 South Korean caps.

His portfolio is growing and, although it hurts for his legion of new fans in South Korea, most of the players want his position to follow new adventures abroad. Sometimes, he can turn his phone back on.

(Top photo: design by Samuel Richardson; photo via Getty Images)


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