Meet the amateur team helping South Korea break out of its old prejudice and embrace women's football

    Nutty FC is one of the amateur teams helping to spread the women's game in South Korea.

    Seoul, South Korea (CNN)For a long time in South Korea, there was a stereotype that football was too competitive for women. Girls were often told to behave modestly and physical education teachers would give footballs to boys and dodge balls to girls without hesitation or question.

    Jung Ji-hyun was one of two girls who played football at her elementary school, where some 400 students attended. Her love for the sport had started by kicking a football with boys in her neighborhood.
    While the other girl had to stop playing due to the opposition of her parents, Jung continued thanks to her relatively less strict parents and in college she joined a club, though it barely had enough people to play.
      "Without many women playing, it was difficult to find teams to compete with," Jung, 28, told CNN Sport. "The discontent that I couldn't enjoy women's football in Korea as I wish started growing."
        Jung was working for a sports marketing company when she came across London-based creative football collective Romance FC.
        "The fact that they make content combining football and culture really attracted me," Jung said of Romance FC, a women's amateur team that aims to create opportunities for players both on and off the pitch.
        Jung, based on her experience of bouncing around community clubs, said most Koreans only wanted to watch or play, but she wanted to be creative too. Disappointed that a team like Romance FC did not exist in South Korea, she was determined: "If we don't have one, I thought, 'I'll make one!'"
          In 2019, Jung and her football-playing friends founded an amateur team, Nutty FC, in the hope of expanding the interest in the women's game in South Korea.
          "'Nutty' has an ambiguous meaning. It stands for our desire to be eccentric, refusing to be ordinary," Jung said. "And C from 'FC' stands for Creatives, not Club."
          The team isn't all about football: it also engages in creative works like designing uniforms. The Nutty FC kit was displayed at the 2021 Capo Football Exhibition.
          Other than playing games at least once a week, Nutty FC engages in creative works, including designing uniforms, exhibiting their work and creating reels to try to make women's football go viral in a country that loves Tottenham star Son Heung-min and the rest of the men's national team, but not much else.
          Nutty FC has grown over the years and now boasts members of various backgrounds. But they all have the same ambition: to change the women's football scene in the country.

          Women choosing to wear boots

          In June 2021, Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) launched a reality TV show, 'Kick a Ball,' where female TV personalities, including actors, models, singers and comedians, played football under the coaching of 2002 World Cup heroes like Lee Young-pyo.
          The show's unique concept, of female beginners improving their skills, captured the imagination, bringing in a peak audience rate of 9.5% in December 2021, according to Nielson Korea.
          But the impact was bigger than just pure entertainment.
          Plab Football, a social sports platform that organizes its users to play futsal -- a game similar to five-a-side football -- without the hassle of hunting for players, said it experienced a 45.2% increase in female users in July 2021 from the previous month, when 'Kick a Ball' first aired.
          The platform ranks its users into five different levels according to their skills, with level five indicating a professional and level one a beginner. Data from the app shows that more than 50% of the total 11,074 female users are ranked level two or lower.
          "I can feel the interest in women's football has explosively increased thanks to 'Kick a Ball,'" Jung said.