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Neymar and Brazil Are More Popular Than 'Gangnam Style' in Korea

Ryan BaileyFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2017

According to the auto aficionados at Jalopnik, last weekend's Korean Formula One Grand Prix was not a rousing success. Most of the stands were empty during practise and qualification with the majority of locals either ignorant or indifferent to the arrival of the lauded motorsport championship.  

There will be no such apathy, however, for this Saturday's international football friendly between Brazil and South Korea.

According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the Selecao arrived in Seoul on Monday morning, where they were greeted by autograph hunting fans. "It was an exhausting journey," said Neymar of the 6,000-mile trip from Spain.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Neymar #10 of Brazil traps the ball against Portugal in the second half during the international friendly match at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The highly marketable Barcelona forward is a huge hit in South Korea, with Spanish paper Sport reporting that he is an "icon" in the region. Such is his popularity that the 66,800-capacity Seoul World Cup Stadium has sold out for the non-competitive game.

Sport put this in context by revealing that "Gangnam Style" singer Psy only managed to get 50,000 fans to watch him mime riding a horse in the same stadium recently. Using venue mathematics, that makes Neymar and Brazil approximately 33 percent more popular than the K-pop star. 

Psy is by far the biggest star in Korean music and he has been popular in his homeland since around 2002—or around the time when Neymar was ten years old. Now, he appears to have been overshadowed by a Brazilian youngster who has yet to show us every weapon in his arsenal. 

It may simply be that the stadium had a more limited capacity for a pop concert, but drawing such a crowd for a football match in a country where the average league attendance last year was a little over 7,000 is impressive—and surely indicative of Neymar's superstar status. 


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