Until four years ago, Sung Jin-hwang worked as an administration manager for a South Korean construction company in Fujairah. Then, in an inspired move, he started a catering services company, Hankook Korean. He wants his Hankook Restaurant, opened about three years ago and tucked away near the Muroor Road and 11th Street intersection in Abu Dhabi, to be the meeting point for his countrymen during the World Cup.
"I hope people will want to come to my restaurant," he said, as he worked on getting the World Cup channels for the flat-screen television set in his restaurant. He has high hopes for South Korea to advance out of the group stage. Mr Sung, 41, who besides running the restaurant also caters for about 1,500 labourers in Jebel Ali, is one of 1,000 South Koreans registered with the country's embassy in the UAE.
He expects that they all will be glued to television screens next week as South Korea plays its first game, against Greece. South Korea qualified easily from its Asian qualifying group and is led by the Manchester United winger Park Ji-sung. Currently ranked 47th in the world, the country's best performance was in 2002, when it co-hosted the tournament and reached the semi-finals before losing to Germany. However, in 2006, the team failed to get out of the group stage.
Ing Ki-kim, who plays with Mr Sung for an all-Korean football team every Monday, in a league organised the Samsung company, believes this squad of players is even better than the team that went so far in 2002. "This team is better than before," said Mr Ing, 41, a tae kwon do instructor with the UAE armed forces who has lived in the country since 1995. "I hope they are going to the last 16 or quarter final, maybe even continue to the semi-final."