December 5, 2022
BANGKOK – South Korean striker Cho Gue-sung turned his phone off after he went viral following his team’s second match at the 2022 World Cup last Monday as new fans from around the globe started following him on Instagram.
His Instagram followers had surged almost 10 fold to about 2 million by 2pm Bangkok time on Saturday.
The striker for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors had just 20,000 followers before South Korea’s opener against Uruguay on November 24.
Cho did not start in that match, which ended in a 0-0 draw. However, in the next match against Ghana on November 28 he scored twice, setting social media aflame around the globe. Cho received countless love letters and marriage proposals for his movie-star looks and prowess on the pitch.
One viral video compares Cho to superstar Park Seo-joon. It has been viewed over 7.7 million times on Twitter.
Korean reporter Seo Jung-hwan said that all the attention was too much for Cho.
Speaking about Cho, Seo told The Athletic: “He had to get some rest. His phone was going all night. It was keeping him awake. He was trying to concentrate on football and, all the time, the messages were coming.”
Cho said after the match against Ghana: “I don’t really want to be famous. I’m only human and don’t feel anything special.”
He has scored six goals in 19 matches for South Korea, with two made in the second match of the World Cup. This puts him in the same league as superstars Lionel Messi, Bruno Fernandes, and Richarlison.
Several European football clubs have reportedly expressed interest in him. South Korea Football Association vice-president Lee Young-pyo said that a sporting director from a “very good club” in Europe asked about Cho.
Despite all the attention, Cho told reporters before the match against Portugal on Friday. “It’s not over yet. We still have hope, we still have one more game. We’ll prepare for that.”
The Korean team won the match (2-1) and will advance to the next round. Cho did not score in the match, but that did not stop the number of his Instagram followers from going through the roof.