Tag Archives: World Cup


BOOK GIVEAWAY: ‘Geek Out’ With a Guide to South Korea


Daniel Tudor first set foot in South Korea on an unforgettable day: the 2002 World Cup game against Italy. What he saw inspired him to return and work in Seoul—first, as an English teacher and later as a Korea correspondent for the Economist. After living in the country for more than seven years, Tudor now works as a freelance writer and is the owner of The Booth, a small chain of pubs in Korea.

Tudor channels his love and admiration for Korea in A Geek in Korea: Discovering Asia’s New Kingdom of Cool (Tuttle Publishing), which also serves as a guide for people who are seeking to learn more about the country’s culture and people. In addition to chapters about Korean pop culture and food, Tudor delves into Korea’s history, cultural norms, social cues, business and technology while debunking any prevalent myths about Korean people. For first-time visitors, Tudor points out his favorite neighborhoods in Seoul and other trendy locations to visit.

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This is a perfect book for anyone who geeks out over anything Korean, and we’re offering a copy of Tudor’s book to a lucky winner in our giveaway. Here’s how you can enter for your chance to win.

Step 1:

Let us know what makes you geek out about Korea—whether it’s over a certain food, holiday, trend, K-pop song or even a drama—by tweeting us at @KoreAm or leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

Step 2: 

Fill out the form below. If you’re a winner, then we will let you know via email and request your address.

DISCLAIMER: We value your privacy. Your email, social media information and address will not be used for any purpose outside of this contest and will not be shared with any party.



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5 Reasons to Follow Team Korea at the Women’s World Cup

by STEVE HAN | @RealSteveScores


It took the South Korean men’s national soccer team almost half-century and six tournament appearances to get its first ever win at the World Cup, but its women’s team achieved that feat in just its second showing after coming from behind to beat Spain in Ottawa, Canada on Wednesday.

The South Korean women’s national soccer team, the perennial underdogs making its second appearance at international soccer’s biggest stage, defeated Spain 2-1 in Group D’s final game at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup thanks to a fierce second-half comeback. To add to the drama, Spanish forward Sonia Bermudez agonizingly struck the crossbar with the last kick of the game, which could have eliminated Team Korea from the tournament.

As the “Taegeuk Ladies” prepare for its historical round of 16 match versus France this Sunday at 4 p.m EST, here are five reasons for you to follow their run at this year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Team Korea epitomizes the “One Nation, One Team” motto.



Before the World Cup kicked off earlier this month, Team Korea held its training camp in Harrison, N.J. I was fortunate enough to watch the team’s last warmup friendly against the U.S., one of the strong favorites to win the World Cup, and was blown away by the visibly palpable team spirit of the Korean players.

In what was a send-off game for the U.S. before a raucous sell-out crowd of 26,467, the sounds of the Korean players constantly yelling directions and encouragements among each other in a hostile environment for 90 minutes were vividly audible from my seat at the top of the Red Bull Arena.

This group may not have the world’s most skillful players, but their togetherness and team camaraderie allow them to play competitive soccer against the world’s best. In the game against the U.S., Team Korea’s stouthearted performance held the Americans scoreless in a 0-0 draw, which marked the first time the U.S. failed to score a goal at home in 66 games.


From this point on, every game at the World Cup is history for this team.



South Korea made its first Women’s World Cup in 2003. While qualifying for the tournament was a plausible feat in itself at the time, the results weren’t pretty once the team got there. After losing 3-0 and 1-0 to Brazil and France, the Koreans suffered a humiliating 7-1 loss to Norway and exited the tournament early.

In their return to the World Cup after 12 years, the new-look Team Korea’s goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi and forward Park Eun-sun are the only two players on the current team to have played in the 2003 tournament. Monday night’s win over Spain not only gave Korea its first victory at the World Cup but it also sent the team to the knockout phase of the tournament—a place that the players and their fans have long considered as the “promise land.”

With the win against Spain and qualification to the round of 16, the Korean women have already achieved their goal at this year’s World Cup. That makes every passing second of their next game on Sunday a part of history for them.


Ji So-yeon is one of the world’s best female soccer players.


The true strength of the South Korean team, as written above, is the players’ ability to play collectively. But that’s not to say that this team lacks star power. The 24-year-old Ji So-yun, who plays professionally for England’s Chelsea LFC, has already become the greatest women’s player Korea has produced and is also one of the best players in the world. Soccer America even selected Ji, who became the PFA Player of the Year in England this season, as one of its 20 players to watch in Canada.


Team Korea has arguably overcome more odds, prejudice and obstacles than any other team at the World Cup.


When Jeon Ga-eul—the closest Team Korea has to a star player besides Ji So-yun—was given the mic to bid her farewell to the fans at a special event in Seoul before leaving to Canada for the World Cup, she couldn’t complete her speech. “It’s been a lonely journey for us to live as female soccer players in Korea,” said Jeon as her voice slurred before she burst into tears.

The KFA, South Korean soccer’s governing body, reportedly boasts an annual budget of $80 million, invested an approximated total of over $10 million in men’s national team in 2011, according to Sports Chosun. The KFA’s total expense on the women’s national team? Just $700,000. The fact that the South Korean women’s team survived as one of the 16 best teams in the world at the World Cup is a miraculous achievement.

Lee Elisa, South Korean lawmaker and former chief of the country’s national training center for athletes, once said in an interview: “I’ve always said that if the KFA invest just one-tenth of what they spend on men’s soccer into women’s soccer, our women’s national team will win the World Cup.”


Team Korea is not guaranteed to play at the next Women’s World Cup.


The chance to play at the World Cup, a quadrennial event which showcases the world’s best teams, doesn’t come easy. The process of qualifying for the World Cup in Asia is a lot tougher for the women’s team than it is for the men’s team. The competition within Asia in women’s soccer is far tougher; Japan is the defending world champion at this year’s World Cup, and the likes of Australia, China and North Korea all have more international pedigree than their men’s national teams.

Luckily for the South Koreans, their arch rival North Korea (a team they’ve beaten only once in 16 games) were banned from competing for qualification, which allowed them to finish fourth at the Asian qualifying (which sends its top five teams to the World Cup) this time around. So enjoy watching South Korea’s improbable run at the World Cup this year, because their place in the next tournament four years later is far from guaranteed.


All images via Naver

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South Korea’s Kang Soo-il Fails Doping Test, Blames Mustache-Growing Cream


by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

We’ve heard athletes give strange reasons for failing doping tests before, but South Korean soccer player Kang Soo-il’s explanation has to be the hairiest of them all.

The Jeju United striker was set to make his international debut in a friendly match against United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday, but was pulled out of the squad after he tested positive for anabolic steroid methyltestosterone, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Kang told the K-League that his doping failure was caused by his mustache-growing cream.

Since FIFA bans players who fail doping tests from representing their nations, the Korea Football Association said Kang will be returning to South Korea on Friday.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 3.59.37 PM(Photo via Kang Soo-il’s Facebook page)

The 27-year-old forward will be allowed to submit his B sample for further tests, according to the K-League. If that sample also tests positive for steroids, then Kang would be subjected to a doping hearing and a K-League ban of 15 games.

Coach Uli Stielike invited Kang to train with South Korea’s national soccer team back in December, making Kang the second biracial soccer player in history to achieve this feat.

However, due to his failed doping test, Kang will be unable to join the national team in their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Myanmar next Tuesday.

I bet Kang is kicking himself for missing such an important match due to some upper-lip follicles. Here’s what we think Kang would look like in a few weeks, if his mustache-growing cream works its magic:

kang soo il moustache(Original photo via Kang Soo-il’s Facebook page)

See Also


Biracial Korean Striker Joins Korea’s National Soccer Team

Homeland Tour for Biracial Adoptees

Will The Real Hapa Please Stand Up?


Featured image via SBS

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South Korea’s Chung Mong-Joon Considering FIFA Presidential Bid


by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Former FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon said on Wednesday that he will “carefully consider” running for FIFA presidency, following Sepp Blatter’s unexpected resignation as head of soccer’s global governing body.

Chung, the biggest shareholder of South Korea’s Hyundai conglomerate, has been a fierce critic of the 79-year-old Swiss president for years, calling Blatter an “impetuous child” in his 2011 memoir. At a press conference in Seoul, Chung told reporters that the manner of Blatter’s resignation was “quite disappointing and regrettable” and emphasized the need for transparency at FIFA.

“Blatter’s cronyism and closed management led FIFA to corruption,” Chung said. “It is a shame that FIFA is unable to reform by itself.”

The 63-year-old billionaire scion added that he would make a final decision about a bid for FIFA’s top position after meeting with international soccer leaders.

Blatter resigned just four days after he was re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA president. On May 27, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives on charges racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. U.S. authorities recently confirmed that they are trying to collect evidence linking Blatter to the ongoing investigation.

Chung, who still serves an honorary FIFA vice president, said that Blatter should not have a hand in choosing his successor, stressing that the election process should be “transparent and fair.” He also suggested that anyone seen as having unfairly benefitted from close ties to Blatter should be excluded from the presidential race.

“[Blatter] was in FIFA for 40 years and he gathered his closest people to run FIFA and blocked people who asked for reforms,” Chung told the Joongang Ilbo. “It’s about time for those with independent opinions to take over.”

Head of the Korea Football Association (KFA) from 1993 to 2009, Chung played a key role in bringing the World Cup to South Korea for the first time in 2002, with Japan as co-host. When Chung began voicing his concerns about Blatter’s management, he lost his position of FIFA vice president to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in a 2011 vote.

Chung joins Prince Ali and UEFA president Michel Platini in the unofficial shortlist of potential candidates to replace Blatter. Meanwhile, Blatter announced that he will remain in office until a new election is held, which could take place anytime from December of this year to March of next year.

See Also


“How a Curmudgeonly Old Reporter Exposed the FIFA Scandal that Toppled Sepp Blatter”

“Uli Stielike Questions Korean Education Over Players’ Lack of Creativity

“Korean Soccer Chief to Run for FIFA Executive Committee”


Featured image via Reuters Video

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KoreAm Editor Roundtable: Part 1

Pictured above: From left to right—Jimmy Lee, Julie Ha, Michelle Woo, John Lee and Ken Lee.

Twenty-five years ago, KoreAm Journal started out as a newsmagazine published on newsprint. “Get Involved!” encouraged the headline on the cover story for the very first issue published April 1990. Featuring news briefs, a profile of Cerritos City Council candidate Charles Kim, restaurant reviews, personal commentary and even a mini-guide to the Korean language, KoreAm boldly announced its arrival in the alternative media space.

In the last quarter-century, the publication, which would eventually evolve into a glossy magazine, has kept a pulse on the issues and people forming the fabric of the Korean American community, as it continues to strive to fulfill the vision outlined by founding publisher Jung Shig Ryu in his inaugural note to readers: “We at KoreAm Journal are dedicating ourselves to cultivating an awareness of the Korean heritage, and informing people of the events happening not only in their homeland, but also in their communities.”

To honor KoreAm’s 25th anniversary, we invited former editors who steered the magazine between 1991 and 2014 to reflect on the milestones over the years. Their recollections touched on the humorous to the heartfelt. We couldn’t print the entirety of the conversation, recorded at KoreAm’s office in Gardena, Calif., due to space and some off-the-record moments, but below is a transcript of the dialogue’s highlights.

You can also watch the first half of the discussion in the video here:

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How Each First Came Across KoreAm

Jimmy Lee
When I was working at KYCC (Los Angeles’ Koreatown Youth and Community Center). We would get the magazine at the office.

Ken Lee: My mom was very active in the Korean community, so she was subscribing to it and I would just see it around the house. This was in the mid-’90s. At the time, it was still a newspaper.

Julie Ha: I actually started receiving KoreAm in my mailbox at the UCLA dormitory. I was like, why am I getting this all of a sudden? But it was free. I do remember being surprised I saw it in my mailbox and thinking, “Oh, this is sort of cool.”

Michelle Woo: I don’t know how I first heard about it, but I first heard about the [staff writer] job on journalismjobs.com. I don’t have a great story behind it, but I was living in Phoenix at the time. I’m not Korean—I’m Chinese—but my last name is Woo—W-o-o—so it could be either [Chinese or Korean], so I think that’s what got me the interview.

CS-25th-AM15-SubscriptionLetterA March 5, 1991 letter sent by KoreAm publisher James Ryu to potential subscribers.

Most Memorable Cover Issues or Stories


Jimmy: The 10-year anniversary of the L.A. riots. Putting that one together was pretty daunting. I think we tried to tackle more than we probably should have. I think for the most part we succeeded, but we really tried to take a look at the riots in a historically comprehensive sort of way. I think that the end result turned out to be very satisfying.

The riots were a very sort of defining moment for KoreAm, especially for the community, but specifically for KoreAm. It was right there at its infancy, we sort of kind of grew up with it.

Julie: In a way, the [L.A. riots] sort of underscored the whole purpose of KoreAm: to have a voice for Korean Americans in the media. A lot of Korean immigrants especially felt like they had no voice in the mainstream media, and that they were being totally misrepresented, underrepresented, as gun-toting Koreans guarding their stores, at any cost … and not really being humanized. There weren’t all these bilingual reporters at mainstream newspapers and TV stations, so I think that’s when a lot of Korean Americans felt like, “Wow, we have no voice.”

John Lee: [In late 1993, we ran] this photo essay by a Korean American photographer from New York who came to Los Angeles after the riots. He embarked on this mission to meet and photograph Korean merchants in the South Los Angeles area. I met him and got to go out on some of his shoots. He had a really good way of working with the merchants. He seemed to understand their lives and had a real comfortable rapport with them. Some of the images he got were really telling about how kind of mundane life is in the Korean liquor store in South Los Angeles, but they had a good way of giving insight into the motivation of people both behind the counter and in front of the counter. We ran this story in KoreAm Journal around the same time.

He eventually ended up working for the New York Times. Before that, we worked on a similar photo essay for the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine. He took photographs; I did a write-up for them.

Untitled-1“The Hard Life,” a photo essay by Chang W. Lee featured in the Dec. 1993 issue of KoreAm. 

Ken: For me, it would be the  [Dec. 1998] cover story we did on the North Korea famine. At the time, it felt like it wasn’t really something that was being discussed in the Korean American community, and at the time in the global community, it was known as the “silent famine” because it was largely being ignored. So, what I discovered was that a lot of first-generation Koreans still had very much a Cold War mentality in which they didn’t—they refused—to see past the politics and into the human suffering that was going on there. On that note, there was so much information that was being blocked, so it’s kind of understandable [that] it wasn’t at the forefront of people’s minds at the time.

At the time, it was just me and [KoreAm publisher] James [Ryu] essentially running the magazine. For two guys in a warehouse to make a cover story out of very little means—it was very satisfying to put that up and get a lot of congratulatory letters from people in the community.

CS-Image3-AM15-1SilentFamineThe Dec. 1998 North Korea famine issue 

Jimmy: That was the infamous phone call issue, right?

Ken: The story, it’s not too tired? I’m just going to pretend you guys aren’t here (motioning to the group), because they’ve heard it over and over. So, as I was saying, it was just me and James working in a warehouse, trying to put this important global issue together. I had managed to get a phone number of human rights workers who were in North Korea. One was a Canadian and the other was an American, and they were working in Pyongyang doing food distribution. I was able to just call them from here in Gardena to Pyongyang, North Korea, and just conduct, like, a two- or three-hour interview.

It felt like I was calling the moon from planet Earth in terms of having that accessibility. So I kind of forgot about it and then about two months later, we were in the office and James is like, “Keeeennnnnn!!!!” He was looking at the phone bill. I wasn’t surprised if it was something like, two dollars per minute. It was pretty bad, it was in the thousands. This was before Skype.

Cover-05-07_Test:Cover-12/06_TestMay 2007 Virginia Tech issue

Michelle: For me, this issue here  stands out (holds up copy of magazine). So this is May 2007. It’s all about Virginia Tech. The cover is, “Our Country, Our Tragedy,” on the Virginia Tech massacre. It was about a week before we were going to print. We had our cover story all laid out on Sonya Thomas, a competitive eater. She’s holding two hot dogs, and it was just this fun, lighthearted cover. And then, I think it was less than a week before we were going to go to print, there was this tragedy at Virginia Tech.

I was a staff writer at the time, and Corina Knoll was the editor. We had this meeting. We just decided to scratch all of our coverage and go full force with this. We wrote about the community response in Virginia, the Korean American community’s responses here, and how the Korean community felt this tragedy so deeply. Seung-hui Cho … I don’t think anyone could ever forget that name or that photograph.

I remember Margaret Cho in her standup was saying that when we heard that the shooter was Asian, everyone was like … ‘Please don’t let him be Korean.’ And I guess her whole joke was, not only was he Korean, but his last name was Cho. After covering all this, I think the community really appreciated that standpoint.

Julie: I remember people being worried that there might be anti-Asian hate crimes. That was a big fear and I remember being really happy about this issue because it was very proactively getting on top of that current issue and covering it from a point of view that I hadn’t seen in the mainstream. Even Seung-hui Cho was called “Cho Seunghui” for the longest time— last name first, and then his first name, which made him seem even more foreign versus American.

Jimmy: The one issue I’m proud of is our 2002 World Cup story. That was the year South Korea co-hosted with Japan and there was all this excitement within the Korean American community. What sucked for us here on the West Coast was that a lot of games were at 4 o’clock in the morning. There were all these big events going on, and so we were there covering it, and it got to be  quite the, you know, hazard to our sleeping health (laughs). But to see the Korean American community rally and get excited [over an event that] brought people all over together was a lot of fun.

world cup coverJuly 2002 World Cup issue

On Memorable Moments as Editor


Jimmy: Oh, there were plenty of bizarre moments. Once I got here, we were able to devote a little more [staff] resources. We actually had a photographer. We got to do a little bit more and, I like to say, we sort of experimented. We went to a Korean bathhouse and took photos.

Ken: In the name of journalism, right?

Jimmy: Exactly. Strictly in the name of journalism. I got to see my co-workers naked (laughs). We won’t tell you who those people were.

Julie: Striking resemblance to Jimmy and [publisher] James [Ryu].

Ken: I’ve got one. This guy who used to help out at the magazine, he was so obsessed with ear pickers to clean ear wax out of your ear. I said, “I totally get it, but if you’re gonna do this story, it’s gotta be funny. You can’t do a very hard-hitting, serious story about ear picks.” And he got really upset and he did the story after I left.

Jimmy: Yeah, I read it. I never saw his original story. It became more of a fun kind of story about the different kinds of ear-pickers. [Koreans] are pretty innovative when it comes to some personal hygiene products so, you know, we had some fun with it, I guess.

In Part 2 of the roundtable discussion, former KoreAm editors talk about how they formed fun and creative columns, memorable feedback from readers, KoreAm‘s growing digital presence and what they learned most about the Korean American community during their tenures. Stay tuned!

Go to Part Two ->


This article was published in the April/May 2015 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the April/May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

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France Chosen Over South Korea to Host FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

FIFA announced earlier today that France will host the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup instead of South Korea.

South Korea, France, England, New Zealand and South Africa initially expressed their interest in hosting the two events. However, the candidates were narrowed down to two countries last October, when France and South Korea submitted their official bid documents to FIFA.

Following a unanimous decision, the FIFA executive committee awarded the hosting rights to France, bringing the tournament back to Europe after Germany served as host in 2007.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is considered the most important international competition in women’s soccer, and it is the biggest single-sport event played by women. The championship has been held every four years since 1991, when its inaugural tournament took place in Guandong, China.

Canada will be hosting the 2015 championship from June 6 to July 5, 2015, with 24 teams competing.

Japan is the current champion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the first Asian team to achieve this feat. There have been six tournaments so far, with Germany and the U.S. being two-time champions.

You can watch the host country announcement below:



UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister to Invest in Korean Soccer League

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

Emirati billionaire Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as Sheikh Mansour, is holding talks with a South Korean conglomerate in an effort to expand his investments in professional soccer to the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean daily Segye Ilbo.

Sheikh Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is often referred to as the richest man in world soccer. He currently owns Manchester City, the English Premier League team, and has overseen its tremendous transformation into one of the world’s wealthiest teams since he purchased the club in 2008.

Now, Sheikh Mansour has reportedly been discussing a possibility in claiming a stake in a team included in the K League, South Korea’s professional soccer league. According to the Segye Ilbo, the 44-year-old petroleum tycoon has sent officials from Manchester City to South Korea to meet with Kang Ho-chan, the president of Nexen Tire, with the hopes of owning a majority share of a K League team.

The details of Sheikh Mansour’s possible investment is still under wraps, but Segye Ilbo‘s report hints that the ongoing discussions entail a potential partnership between Manchester City and Nexen Tire that would then purchase a share of an existing K League team.

The K League team Sheikh Mansour plans to purchase could be be his fifth venture in professional soccer. Manchester City has won two Premier League titles ever since Sheikh Mansour’s acquired ownership of the once struggling English team seven years ago. After seeing his investment pay off, the deputy prime minister of the UAE has since purchased 80 percent of the New York City FC and Australia’s Melbourne City FC, respectively, as well as 20 percent of Japan’s Yokohama Mariners.

If Sheikh Mansour’s deal to acquire a K League team comes to fruition, it’s possible that he could invest millions of dollars in a league that is currently deprived of financial resources to keep its star players. Many of South Korea’s key players on its national team have been signed by the more glamorous European clubs over the last decade. In recent years, even wealthier teams in neighboring China and oil-rich Middle Eastern teams have poached K League’s premier talents.

Case in point, only six players from South Korea’s 23-man roster at last year’s World Cup was playing in the domestic K League. One of those six players, forward Lee Keun-ho, who notched one goal and one assist in three games at the World Cup, has signed a lucrative deal with El Jaish in Qatar after the tournament.

It is believed that the motivation behind Sheikh Mansour’s strategy to tackle the Korean market stems from the substantial economic and marketing benefits Manchester City’s rival Manchester United reaped between 2005 and 2012. During those years, Manchester United won four English titles and two European championships with South Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung playing an integral part of the team’s success, scoring 27 goals in more than 200 games. Off the field, Manchester United capitalized on Park’s marketability in Korea with television rights, merchandise sales and also by allowing him to host a tour game in 2009 in Seoul.

Sheikh Mansour is the half brother of UAE’s current president, Sheikh Khalifa, and is the minister of presidential affairs and the chairman of private equity firm Abu Dhabi United Group.


AFC Asian Cup 2015

5 Reasons Why Team Korea Must Win the Asian Cup Final

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

After reaching the Asian Cup final for the first time in 27 years, South Korea’s national soccer team will now take on host Australia with the hopes of winning the coveted continental title.

South Korea last won the Asian Cup in 1960 when it was merely a four-team competition. Since then, the tournament has grown into a 16-team extravaganza. Averaging nearly 20,000 fans per game, the 2015 Asian Cup is on course to reach a record overall attendance of 650,000 as the final between Korea and the home team at Stadium Australia in Sydney, which seats 84,000 this Saturday at 1 a.m. PT, has already been sold out.

Here are five reasons why it would be amazing for Team Korea to finally win the Asian Cup:

1. Winning a continental championship on a six-game win streak would boost Korea’s currently abysmal ranking in world soccer.

The FIFA Coca Cola World Ranking   Ranking Table   FIFA.com

After failing to impress at the World Cup in Brazil last summer, South Korea’s nation soccer team’s ranking plummeted to an all-time low at 69th in the world, according to FIFA. Per FIFA’s ranking procedures, the best way for a team to climb up the ladder is to win games in continental tournaments, such as the Asian Cup, European Championships and Copa America.

If Korea beats Australia in the Asian Cup final, then its six-game winning streak will certainly guarantee a significantly higher place in the FIFA rankings when the new list is released in February.

2. As Asian champions, Korea would be sent to the Confederations Cup, where it would play against the world’s best teams a year ahead of the World Cup. 

confederations-cup-trophy-600x223Photo credit: WorldSoccerTalk.com

It isn’t always easy for national teams like Korea, with its limited funding, to arrange games against top class opponents to prepare for the World Cup. An Asian Cup title would solve this issue immediately at no cost, as continental champions are invited to compete in the Confederations Cup, a quadrennial tournament held a year before every World Cup.

If Korea wins the Asian Cup, it would earn an invaluable chance to play against the European and South American champions in 2017 as well as play in venues where the World Cup will take place the following year.

3. There is no better way to send off soon-to-be-retired veteran Cha Du-ri than making him an Asian champion in his last game for Korea. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 1.12.20 PMPhoto credit: Osen

Cha, a 34-year-old fullback who has represented Korea for the last 14 years, is set to retire from the national team after the Asian Cup. The bald-headed veteran was controversially left out of the team roster for last year’s World Cup, in which he took part as a color commentator for South Korean TV network SBS.

When Korea lost 4-2 to Algeria in the World Cup, Cha cried during the nationally televised broadcast and said, “I apologize to our players, because experienced players like me weren’t good enough to make the team. Our young players were forced to carry a burden that was just too heavy for them.”

Cha, who has since returned to the team, already assisted two vital goals for Korea in the Asian Cup, and will have a chance to avenge the disappointment of missing what could have been his third World Cup appearance.

4.  Team Korea has an opportunity for redemption after its embarrassment at the World Cup.

soccer-team-yeotPhoto credit: Yonhap

When the Korean players returned to the country last July after failing to win a game at the World Cup for the first time in 1998, some fans held a sign that read, “Korean soccer is dead,” and threw a barrage of yeot candy at them to express their disgust.

After beating Iraq in the Asian Cup semifinals, South Korean captain Ki Sung-yueng said, “The No. 1 reason we have to win this tournament is to restore our pride. We would feel hugely undone if we don’t win it at this point.”

Lifting the Asian Cup trophy for the first time in 55 years will surely be the best way for the team to recover the Korean people’s support and faith.

5. Korea’s national soccer players would gain immeasurable experience and a psychological boost if they become Asia’s best team with a depleted roster. 


With injuries to first-choice forwards, such as Kim Shin-wook and Lee Dong-gook, South Korea’s newly-appointed German head coach Uli Stielike was left to bank on Lee Jung-hyup, an inexperienced 22-year-old striker who hasn’t even been a starter for his K League club Sangju Sangmu.

Lee has been a revelation during the Asian Cup after scoring two game-winning goals for Korea, but the national team has suffered devastating blows since the start of the tournament, especially with two of its best players–Lee Chung-yong and Koo Ja-chael–ruled out with injuries.

While it’s true that the team would become much stronger once the injured players recover, winning the Asian Cup with a wounded team would serve as a badge of honor for Team Korea.


Featured image courtesy of AFCAsianCup.com