South Korea

Population: 47,900,000
Area: 98,480 km²
Capital: Seoul
Language: Korean

South Korea qualified automatically as host nation.

Participations: (5) 1954, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998
Best placing: First round elimination every time
Topscorer: Hong Myung-bo, 2 goals

Jun 04 - KOR v POL  in Busan
Jun 10 - KOR v USA  in Daegu
Jun 14 - KOR v POR  in Incheon

Hong Myung-bo is the hosts' most experienced player and will now appear in his fourth World Cup. His leadership in defence will be vital to how well South Korea perform in their own tournament.

WCA VERDICT: First round exit
South Korea have still not made it past the first round despite participating in every cup since 1986. Now with home crowd on their side the chances will definitely increase to finally be successful, but does the team actually have what it takes on the field? We predict South Korea will be the first host country in history to be eliminated in the first round.


by Peter Goldstein

    South Korean fans are worried. In 14 tries, their team has yet to win a game at the World Cup -- and this time there's a lot more at stake. Could they be the first host team to fail to advance from the group stage? The coach is Guus Hiddink, who has tried to accustom the Koreans to the principles of Total Football, playing his men in a variety of positions. After a long run of disappointing results, the team finally seems to be coming together, although they have yet to beat a quality opponent. Still, there remain a number of question marks on the squad. Hiddink has said he knows who his starting 11 will be, but if so, he's the only one who does.

    The questions start at keeper, where neither Lee Woon-jae nor Kim Byung-il has been convincing lately. Kim, the keeper at France '98, can be dazzling at times, and is a fan favorite, but is given to simple mistakes and erratic decision-making. Lee is the opposite: limited in scope, he's good at the basics. Right now Lee seems to have the edge.

    The team has usually played a 3-5-2, although a strong 4-4-2 performance against Finland suggests another option is available. A fixture in the back line is 32-year-old Hong Myung-bo, Korea's all-time leader in caps, who appears to have recovered from a stress fracture of the shin. He's a fine sweeper, intelligent in both defense and attack, although probably slower than he used to be. Captain Yoo Sang-chul, active, quick, and decisive, has been playing central defense, but with Hong back, he will probably move to midfield. At the moment the leading candidates for the other back line spots are Choi Jin-Chul on the right and Kim Tae-Young on the left. Choi is strong and good in the air; Kim has all-round skills and is a real battler, but at times temperamental. In a 4-4-2, Choi would probably share the center with Hong.

    Good news is the rise of 23-year-old Song Chong-gug, a potential starter either on the right side in defense or midfield. His enthusiasm occasionally finds him out of position, but he's a superb talent, quick, with excellent ball control, tackling and playmaking skills, and that Korean specialty, a tremendous long-range shot. For the right wing other candidates are veteran Choi Sung-yong or newcomer Choi Tae-uk. The latter is very fast, the better dribbler and maybe the better attacker; the former is experienced, more consistent, and the better all-round player. Kim Nam-il has recently made a case as a right-sided midfielder; he's a rough talent, modest in skill but aggressive, and with a good field sense. Yoon Jung-Hwan is a playmaking type, at times brilliant in attack but apt to neglect his defense.

    On the left side of midfield we'll likely see Lee Young-pyo, who provides energy, good vision and ball skills, and occasional scoring power. Park Ji-sung, another typically active midfielder who's strong on free kicks, is another possibility here. On the left wing one candidate is Lee Eul-young, an intelligent attacking player who's just now coming into his own. Then there's the speedy Lee Chun-soo, a rising star at 20, who can play on either wing.

    The best of the strikers is Hwang Sun-hong, a creative center-forward who plays well with his back to goal and is good in the air. But he's 34, and very injury prone. Choi Yong-soo plays very aggressively and has a strong right foot, although there's not much finesse in his game. Ahn Jung-hwan has plenty of pace and dribbling ability; he might also be an option at attacking midfield. Youngster Seol Ki-hyun of Anderlecht is fast and can penetrate defenses, and if he can get over knee problems, will challenge for a spot.

    Although this year's lineup is still unsettled, Korean football is a known quantity: fast, physical, with seemingly unlimited energy, but technically limited and unsure in front of goal. Hiddink can do little to change this. His chopping and changing has come in for a lot of criticism, but there are signs it may finally be paying off. Some of the younger talent seems to be developing, and Hiddink is smart enough to settle on a lineup in the final friendlies. No guarantees, but don't be at all surprised if Korea puts the many years of failure behind them.


by Jan Alsos

    South Korea have participated five times in the World Cup, but still havenít won a single game. Their first appearance was in 1954, but sixteen goals conceded in two games against Hungary and Turkey meant a solid bottom position in the group.

    They didnít qualify again until 1986. The results improved in Mexico and even a point was captured -- against Bulgaria -- but they still finished bottom of the group. In Italy four years later three more defeats followed, but their only goal scored by Hwang Bo-kwan on a free-kick against Spain was a beauty. More great goals from long range followed in USA 1994 and two draws were secured against Bolivia and Spain -- the latter after being two goals down -- but still not enough to go through.

    France Ď98 saw South Korea go home after the first round for the fifth consecutive time and this was arguably their least impressive showing in recent years.




Info on how the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
Detailed info on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
Every nation with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
Player profiles of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection of various statistics and records.
Every mascot since it was introduced in 1966.
Test your knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
Rankings of lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
Our collection of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
Some banners and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information on who keeps this site available.
| '30 | '34 | '38 | '50 | '54 | '58 | '62 | '66 | '70 | '74 | '78 | '82 | '86 | '90 | '94 | '98 | '02 | '06 | '10 | '14 |
Copyrights © 1998-2014 - This website is created and maintained by Jan Alsos. It is an unofficial website not affiliated or connected in any way to FIFA. All rights reserved.