The Korea Times 칼럼

Surviving Vuvuzelas (2010년 6월 19일)

divicom 2010. 6. 21. 09:10

World Cup soccer fans can complain quite strongly, yet their voices can’t beat the sound of their target, the vuvuzela.
While the plastic horns have made matches in South Africa complete for several decades, they are not very familiar to non-Africans. Proof of this is that whenever I type the eight letters into the Microsoft Word system, it is automatically underlined in red.

Critics argue that the instruments should be banned from the ongoing games, but I have a different opinion. I oppose the ban not because I like the sound of the “angry bees” or because my ears can cope with the high decibel monotone. I object to the ban because I don’t like coercion. I also agree with Joseph S. Blatter, president of FIFA, who repeatedly defended the horns: “We should not try to Europeanize an African World Cup.”


To be frank, I am one of the tens of thousands of people who find the “vuvu-ing” quite annoying and who would appreciate watching the movement of the “Jabulani,” the official ball, amid the happy cries of people instead of the equalizing sound of the horns. I miss the boisterous cheers and sneers that used to fuel enthusiasm among even the coldest hearts. The spectators on the tube adorn the stands with captivating colors and their voices must be as enchanting.

The host nation could use the soccer matches as a welcome opportunity to publicize its rich cultural heritage, particularly its diverse music. For instance, world citizens would love to hear some shouts and chants of “kwaito,” the unique music that emerged in South Africa in the mid- 1980s with socio-political messages.

“Amampondo,” the South African percussion ensemble, may be too busy to come to the stands, but similar groups could honor the first World Cup on the continent with the world-famous African percussion. I wouldn’t mind hearing “Waka Waka,” the official World Cup song, many times before it is sung at the finals on July 11.

One most worrisome condition that may result from the reign of vuvuzelas is hearing loss among the affected people. While prolonged exposure to noise causes inner ear trauma and deafness, damage can be done in a shorter period of time by louder sounds. I would definitely insert earplugs if I were in the soccer stadium. I wonder if the vuvuzela sound spares the African ears. If not, the blowers themselves should take caution for their own protection.

All things considered, this looks like the best time for the African supporters to change their tool of encouragement.
Sometimes when percussionists in the stadium are flashed up on the television screen, I ardently wish to hear the sound they make. I sincerely hope our African friends will put down the horns and take up other instruments now that the whole world has learned about the former’s power.

If the horn blowers are resolved to keep on blowing, the foreign spectators, especially those watching television, may try to use this occasion as a moment to train their minds. When a person doesn’t want to see something, one can avoid the sight by closing his/her eyes. When one doesn’t like to hear something, one needs to close one’s ears. Closing one’s ears is not an easy task but can be done through practice.

If one can’t prevent the sound from penetrating the ear, one can at least turn the noise to a piece of music by controlling one’s mind. Remember the saying that when you can’t change the world, you’d better change yourself? I have yet to practice shutting my ears to the vuvuzelas, but I have already succeeded in accepting their sound as an interesting accompaniment to the games. The good thing is that you don’t get angry any longer once you take the sound as music and not as noise.

If such efforts fail, one can find solace in the fact that the games will be adjourned in three weeks. When something is temporary, it is easy to tolerate. In the meantime, nations whose people can’t embrace the vuvuzela sound should mind the horns’ entry into their territories. If your country is vast and calm, you may afford to keep a few vuvuzelas.

For a small country like Korea, where the ears are overworked all the time and neighborhood noise often causes serious fights among nearby residents, the last thing we need is the horns. So, when you come back home from Johannesburg, dear brethren, come back with joyful memories and happy hearts, but not with the horns.


남아프리카공화국에서 열리고 있는 2010월드컵 축구의 주인공은 단연 부부젤라입니다. 일 미터 길이의 플라스틱

나팔의 단조로운 '부~~~' 소리가 전 세계의 축구팬들을 당혹스럽게 하고 있습니다. 평소 부부젤라 소음은 100데시벨을 넘나들지만 개회식 때는 130데시벨까기 올라갔다고 합니다. 어떤 이들은 7월 11일 월드컵이 끝난 후에도 축구팬들은 한참 부부젤라의 환청에 시달리게 될 거라고 합니다. 텔레비전으로 게임을 시청하는 많은 사람들은 부부젤라로 인해 들리지 않게 된 응원의 목소리를 그리워합니다. 또 어떤 이들은 아프리카 음악의 대표라 할 수 있는 타악기 소리가 부부젤라를 대체하기를 바랍니다. 


경기장에 부부젤라를 들고 들어가는 것을 금지해야한다는 축구팬들의 요구가 높아지자, 국제축구연맹(FIFA)은 이 문제에 대한 논의를 거듭했으나, 결론은 그 나라 응원 문화이니 금지할 수 없다는 것이었습니다. 저도 강제 금지는 반대합니다. 그 소리가 좋아서가 아니고, 강제가 나쁜 것이기 때문입니다. 경기장에 가는 사람은 귀를 보호할 장치를 착용하고 가는 게 현명할 것입니다. 저처럼 텔레비전으로 경기를 보는 사람이라면 볼륨을 낮출 수 있으니 다행입니다. 볼륨을 낮추기 싫다면, 자신의 마음을 바꿈으로써 부부젤라 소리를 게임의 일부로 받아들이거나, 소음이 아닌 음악으로 받아들이는 노력을 하는 게 좋을 것 같습니다. 좀 더 자신을 연마한 사람이라면, 눈을 감음으로써 보기 싫은 것을 보지 않듯, 귀를 닫음으로써 소음을 차단할 수도 있겠지요. 


제가 우려하는 건, 현재 남아공에서 응원 중인 한국인들이 돌아올 때 부부젤라를 기념품으로 사들고 오지 않을까 하는 겁니다. 우리는 이미 무수한 소음에 시달리고 있습니다. 제발 부부젤라를 가져오는 사람이 아무도 없었으면 좋겠습니다.