He scolds the arrogant Totti, and beats the gangster… Kim Seong-tae, ‘Hiddink’s bodyguard’ [2002 숨은영웅①]

On July 7, 2002, as coach Guus Hiddink, who directed Shinhwa in the Korea-Japan World Cup semifinals, went to the airport to return to the Netherlands, bodyguard Kim Seong-tae (yellow circle) is keeping a close eye on the surroundings. Reporter Kang Young-jo
Gus Hiddink - (2002)

2002 Korea-Japan World Cup semifinals Shinhwa planted a message of ‘can do’ in Korean football, which was treated as a marginalized place among the world powers. It also led to securing world-class soccer infrastructure and discovering talented ‘2002 kids’. However, the myth of the quarterfinals, which has become the basis of Korea’s football development, was not made solely through the sweat of Guus Hiddink, coaches, and 23 Taegeuk warriors. Behind their shining glory is a hidden helper. Sports Seoul wants to illuminate the hidden heroes of the 20th anniversary of the Korea-Japan World Cup.

[스포츠서울 | 남양주=김용일기자] Under the direction of Guus Hiddink, there was a ‘solid shadow’ behind the fact that the Taegeuk Warriors reached the semifinals of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and emerged as national heroes. Kim Seong-tae is the representative of TRI International, who has been responsible for the ‘strong security’ of the Korean national soccer team for 25 years.

CEO Kim, who set up a security company in 1992, established a relationship with soccer in 1997. He, who was usually a ‘soccer fanatic’, came to the Korea Football Association (KFA) with a ‘safety proposal’ with a passion to protect his favorite field. At that time, guidelines regarding the safety environment of soccer fields were not clear. After studying overseas cases and various books, CEO Kim created a ‘soccer field safety concept’ that started with the soccer field standard, considered how the leader moves on the technical line, and when the players warm up. Through these efforts, he gained the trust of the KFA and successfully defended himself by participating in various A matches and events.

And in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, there was a safety department (composed of the National Intelligence Service, police, etc.) within the World Cup Organizing Committee, but it was actually put in as a bodyguard in charge of the national team. CEO Kim recently met with Sports Seoul at his home in Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do and said, “The security department of the organizing committee is generally state-led. The national team needed a bodyguard who knew the internal affairs well, so we got the opportunity, and it was truly ‘the glory of the family’,” he laughed.

2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup soccer spectators and cheering (Korean cheering team, Red Devil)
The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup Round of 16 match between Korea and Italy was held at Daejeon World Cup Stadium.
Ahn Jung-hwan-2002
Ahn Jung-hwan’s Golden Goal Celebration.

◇“Totti, who appeared without a sign, set the suit for 20 minutes”
The Korea-Japan World Cup round of 16 match against Italy, considered the best match in Korean football history. Korea lost 0-1 to Italy, who had played harshly, but just before the end of the second half, Seol Ki-hyeon scored the equalizer, and Ahn Jung-hwan, who missed a penalty kick in the first half in extra time, scored a header golden goal to achieve a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory. Representative Kim also picks it as the most memorable match on the field 20 years ago. He said, “I tend to trust my senses while doing this job. At that time, we played against Italy at the Daejeon World Cup Stadium. I got goosebumps when I heard the shouts. I thought, ‘I’m never going to lose today,'” he recalled.

It’s not just about winning and remembering. There is also a ‘strong relationship’ with Italy’s representative star Francesco Totti. CEO Kim said, “When Totti arrived at the stadium with some of his colleagues, he did not hang the entrance ticket. reinforced They said, ‘Aren’t you wearing the (Italian symbol) training clothes and uniforms?’ and they just tried to get in.” Totti was a ‘people’s hater’ with his arrogant comment that “one goal is enough” ahead of the Korean War, but he properly faced the ‘principalist’ Kim. It is said that Totti was even more outraged at the fact that he blocked himself as ‘the face is the business card’.

2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup Soccer Final Round of 16 Korea-Italy
During the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup round of 16 match, coach Guus Hiddink faced Francesco Totti (left).
2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup Soccer Final Round of 16 Korea-Italy
The appearance of Totti exiting through the simulation action. Sports Seoul DB

CEO Kim laughed and said, “Honestly, why didn’t you know Totti?” and “At first, I thought that I should hold on to him for a bit since he is a famous (identifiable) player, but I felt bad for his attitude. I think he blocked it for over 20 minutes.” In the end, he ran to the FIFA coordinator and only allowed him to enter the stadium after he had the tickets hung normally. Did Totti lose his composure from then on? He got excited throughout the game and was sent off with an overtime simulation action, which contributed to Korea’s progress to the quarterfinals. At this, CEO Kim laughed, saying, “By the way, I also contributed to the quarterfinals in my own way.”

2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup Soccer Quarterfinals Korea-Spain
Korean players cheer after winning a penalty shootout against Spain in the quarterfinals.
2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup Soccer Quarterfinals Korea-Spain

◇’Fourth River Shinhwa Bitgoeul’… Fighting gangsters outside the market?
Gwangju, the ‘bit village’, who beat Spain on penalty shootouts and wrote the myth of the quarterfinals, also remains a deep memory. At that time, street vendors were lined up in front of the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, and I had to ask for their cooperation in the security movement. In the process, CEO Kim also faced gang violence. A KFA official said, “It is a famous anecdote that CEO Kim confronted the boss at the scene when the gangster did not back down.”

CEO Kim said, “At that time, even street vendors and gangsters were included in the (gangster) organization and often moved as one. When he was escorting events (not just football), he often had to organize with them. One time, at the Seoul Gymnastics Stadium, my boss and I went into a room and got stuck (on condition of granting the request).” Did I say that I fell in love while fighting? Years have passed and a member of the organization at the time saw CEO Kim at the event and once said, “It’s been a long time,” and handed me a hand.

Gus Hiddink
Gus Hiddink
Hiddink’s unforeseen ball delivery ceremony to the audience right after the Spanish game.

After Shinhwa in the semifinals, when coach Hiddink gave an unannounced ceremony to kick the ball at the crowd, CEO Kim was by his side. He said, “At that time, it was a sudden move from the bodyguard’s point of view.” Director Hiddink watched every move closely because he was considered the most famous celebrity at the time. At that moment, bodyguards moved in various places,” he recalled.

Kim Seong-tae (bodyguard)
TRI International CEO Kim Seong-tae poses after an interview with Sports Seoul at his home in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. Namyangju | By Kim Yong-il

CEO Kim, who said that he gained more and more joy and achievement from the guard through soccer, is also rising as a keeper of the ‘Bentuho’, which will play 4 matches in the A-match in June. He is also active as a safety advisor for the K-League. 25 years have passed, but he still looks at the soccer field through the eyes of a hawk. “The philosophy is always the same,” he said. ‘Doubt everything’, ‘Doubt everything’. I will do my best in the future so that all people can enjoy soccer without anxiety.”


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