Koreans Transfixed by Japan's World Cup Matches

Even the world's greatest football stars could not divert Koreans' fascination from their bigger rival Japan. The game with the highest viewer rating in the World Cup, other than matches where Korea itself was playing, was the generally little-heeded showdown between Ivory Coast and Japan on June 15.

The match drew a viewer rating of 21.8 percent, second only to Korea vs. Russia last Wednesday, which garnered 52.5 percent.

Third place went to the match between Japan and Greece last Friday with 19.8 percent.

The ratings for Japan's matches were more than twice as high as any other countries', which ran up an average of six to 10 percent. Only the match between England and Italy scored 18.9 percent.

Japanese players leave the pitch after the group C World Cup soccer match against Ivory Coast at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil on Saturday. Ivory Coast won 2-1. /AP-Newsis Japanese players leave the pitch after the group C World Cup soccer match against Ivory Coast at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil on Saturday. Ivory Coast won 2-1. /AP-Newsis

A spokesman for Nielsen Korea, which compiles viewer ratings, said, "It seems that Koreans are interested in how their rival is doing, and anti-Japanese sentiment due to rising tensions between the two countries was reflected. Mind you, the Japan matches kicked off at 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., which was a convenient time to watch."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 23, 2014 11:48 KST