The Way Forward + K-League weekend listing [update]

It’s like a hangover, only it’s lasted much much longer. And yet, the sun somehow is still shining. Only days after an early exit from the World Cup and a rude arrival awaiting team Korea on it’s return to Seoul, the Tavern’s carried on with much discussion in the wake of the Yeot toss seen ’round the world. The synthesis from it all: what is the way forward for Korean football?Not to beat a dead 말 further, the incident however has had a bit of reverberation. Worldwide media attention has spotlighted the incident. From the Guardian Football Weekly to ESPN TV live commentators calling the Argentina Switzerland game, they’ve all referred to the incident, relaying it as part of the whole drama/chaos swirling around this Brazilian World Cup. Different reactions from Koreans has trended negative towards the Yeot tossers/banner wavers (Korean Football is Dead), but gauging from our own Tavern, there’s pitched battles on the merits or demerits of said action.  While the incident will be looked at through different lenses – for bridge mending purposes between the Yeot toss approvers and disapprovers (even between the Tavern writers there’s different consensus), there can be this agreement: Korean football has to improve. Structural change is vital if Korea ever decides that it wants to really compete as an international footballing contender.  But I’m being told it’s time for a commercial break – what? There aren’t any commercials lined up? Ok Barcelona academy player Lee Seung-Woo highlight from the Al Kass cup will have to do. Stay with us, the Tavern will be back in a moment…

[Tavern promo commercial:  Be on the lookout soon for the Tavern owner’s observation of the last group match vs Belgium. It’s a hilarious and bitter misadventure into the heart of DC to find support in watching Korea’s last stand in the World Cup, coming soon on Channel Tavern]

And we’re back. I’m twisting forward and back chronologically in this blog-cast, so stay with me here.  First the Forward; when talking about the way forward, as in advancing Korean football forward, what do I mean?  It could mean different things to different people, but how about Korea one day being a consistently deep World Cup squad for starters. Sure Korea qualified for the World Cup 8 consecutive times, but only twice has Korea advanced past the group stage. Mexico in comparison has made it to the Round of 16 for 6 consecutive times (and eliminated there all 6 times). There’s naysayers -some pointing to 2014’s results.  Despite that, why not in the future?  When a small country like Costa Rica [CONCACAF] is having a moment similar to Korea’s magical 2002 World Cup run, they do so with a population of 4.5 million within 51 square km (South Korea has 2x the land, and 11x the population in comparison).  While Asia has had a setback as a whole in this World Cup, the world’s largest continent is bound to make a comeback in the international scene. The question remains: will Korea be part of that?

One writer for Yonhap recently referred to Korea’s 2002 semifinal World Cup run, cynically saying Korea probably won’t likely see that again. Sometimes a Tavern owner just has to disagree. Ok, there are no guarantees in life. But take another country, the US of A. Between Korea & the US, they aren’t even in the same league as far as population and land mass, but there is a parallel. Both have a population interested in football roughly every 4 years (and there’s more parallels like an inadequate university system for player development). That surface deep interest doesn’t win World Cups. But as it relates to the Coupe de Monde, a statistician made this prognostication: if the US ever decided to pool it’s vast resources towards that goal of reaching the finals – mind you we’re talking about a complete overhaul in just about all aspects of American life, radically revamp it’s youth training (soccer mom concept has to go) and the even more difficult task of a cultural transformation – believe it or not, it’s quite possible. We are, though, talking about the kind of sustained herculean effort that put a man on the moon. According to the algorithm, the US could pull it off – give or take 20+ years… Maybe. But looking at the USA/Belgium quarterfinals last night, the surging interest, record breaking TV viewership, the growing numbers at MLS stadiums, one gets the sense that maybe, just maybe… this lumbering behemoth may awaken it’s inner football power -and sow havoc on the football world in the process. They are getting closer…

Working with a number of writers -including Jinseok who is typing as we speak on an epic post – there will be a ‘blueprint for the future’ (accompanied by echoes ‘blueprint for the future x3…’).  So let’s get constructive, this is interactive – I want to hear from you on ways Korean football can move forward.  You can either submit it on the comment section below, email, post at the Tavern Facebook site – alternately we’ll have a new page dedicated at that Tavern soon on just that topic from which you can submit your ideas.

 

The KFA is frequently a target for supporters – what reforms would make a difference? Could be it reworking it’s corporate collusion with the chaebols?  I’d imagine some would make wholesale changes to the KNT, other surgical in areas.  What would you do for the next 4 year World Cup campaign -and possibly beyond?  Across the board – how can the quality of Korean coaching across the board improve? How about the K-League and lower divisions –how to get the masses into the stadiums & increase TV visibility? What about youth academy programs, university & the K-League draft? The ever problematic but always sensitive military conscription issue?  Currently there’s a KFA program that helps youth go abroad to develop (think Son Heung-Min -sent to Hamburg as a 16 year old) – keep that as is or tweak it?

 

Yes, a blueprint for the future. It could be the best antidote for a World Cup hangover.  We’re going to propose a way forward, bringing some of our thoughts into it along with culling the free-marketplace of ideas from around the diaspora, from other writers, clubs, players (maybe -they’re hard to get ahold of), and ex-players (more of a possibility. When we are finished, together we will submit it to the headquarters of the KFA and the K-League.  We’ll also have it up at the Tavern as it’s own dedicated page – tacked on like a manifesto. Will it make a difference? Maybe. Or Maybe not.  There are no guarantees in life. But you never know who will read it and what possible impact ideas have to influence the long term vision -that of a brighter future for Korean football. Dae Han Min Guk ya’ll.  Tavern out.

and as to the Present:  K-League football resumes tomorrow, check it out:

Saturday, July 5
Suwon
US EST 6:00 AM7 PM Korea Time
Gyeongnam
Dragons
US EST 6:00 AM7 PM Korea Time
FC Seoul
Jeju United
US EST 6:00 AM7 PM Korea Time
Steelers
Busan IPark
US EST 6:30 AM7:30 PM Korea Time
Jeonbuk
Sunday, July 6
Seongnam
US EST 6:00 AM7 PM Korea Time
Ulsan
Incheon
US EST 6:00 AM7 PM Korea Time
Sangju Sangmu

I’ll be able to see some of these matches from here in the US, my toddler daughter usually gets up early at 6, so we’ll watch together. Very exciting!  The KNT World Cup players based in the K-league aren’t likely to feature for some time however.

 

>Another commercial break, check out this video feature from Yahoo! Sports where they highlight the rise of football and football culture over taking baseball in Japan. A must see to get an idea of what Japan is doing right (and where the K-League could take a page from).

Yeot toss / banner controversy thoughts from the Tavern Owner: my own take is that while it’s ok that some people are angry, it’s important to channel that constructively. That’s why the yeot toss seen in the full context with the things that have limited Korean football, it’s misdirected anger. One example of why it’s misdirected anger: in spite of 2002’s euphoria, Koreans have abandoned the K-League -with few exceptions leaving stadiums virtually empty. And yet, K-League teams have won 3 of the past 5 Asian Championship titles. You wouldn’t know that Korea has any football culture judging on TV audience shares and K-League attendance rates. Talk about shame – that should be a real source and reflection should be directed there.

With all due respect, I believe pitchfork angry mobs represent reactionary impulses, the end result could mean less than a constructive or satisfactory process to get positive changes going.  Going back to the early stages of the World Cup qualifying campaign, in 2011 Cho Kwang-Rae getting sacked after 3-0 loss to Lebanon resulted in the KFA installing Choi Kang-Hee, and KNT supporters all know how that story ended. Ok, here’s an imperfect analogy that US based Tavern goers might understand: in the wake of catastrophe, improper lack of regulation leading to the housing mortgage crisis and 2 unfunded wars of choice towards the end of George W Bush’s presidency, the US economy was in a tailspin. Enter the election of the first black president in US history and suddenly the Tea Party emerges as a reactionary force, pitchforks and guns in hand in the backdrop of the Great Recession. Rather than participating in a rational conversation to move the country away from the disaster brought on with help from the former administration (that they largely voted for), they engaged in uncivil unrest. Nothing wrong with that in of itself, but their raison d’etre consisted of racist conspiracy theories (Obama was a muslim born in Kenya), Ayn Randian ideology (who needs regulation when we can have Chinese industrial toxins in our imported foods?) and so many other cases of downright nuttiness (see Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachman, James Inhofe, Ann Coulter, etc etc etc). Speaking of Ann Coulter, see her article about the newfound American love for soccer, calling it a sign of the nation’s “moral decay” ?  She’s continuing her crazy hate for football according to Politico

There’s more but my kids are leaving me behind, they want to go to the park for 4th of July stuff. I’ll save it here and possibly update more.  back from the park…

To clarify: it’s an imperfect analogy. No, the yeot throwers aren’t racist crazy misanthropes.  But I mention the latter as the cautionary tale of the problem with misplaced anger and reactionary knee jerk impulses.

What’s done is done. While I don’t condone the actions of yeot throwing and waving the banner “Korean football is dead” – I don’t think all Tavern goers will ever come to a common consensus on it.

I suspect there would’ve been more sympathy for yeot tossing if:

1. We went back to time to June 2010

2. Korea swapped places with France

Enough said. Dae Han Min Guk.

 

About Roy Ghim 405 Articles

The old Tavern Owner

40 Comments

  1. I’m curious as to how the K-League takes their marketing. Perhaps those more familiar with the K-League may be willing to enlighten me on this?

    For instance, do they cover the basics of live-streaming on the Internet? Do they have full-time social media engagement with fans and moving beyond simply just posting content?

    Are they utilizing their corporate ownership to its fullest advantage? For instance, the Bluewings and the Lions are owned by the Samsung Group. Given the KBO’s larger success in capturing Korean hearts and minds, have they ever tried having the Bluewings piggyback off of the Lions in any way?

    While star power in ads is nothing unique the world over, South Koreans arguably love their advertisements to be star-studded more than anyone else.

    I’m willing to wager that K-League teams simply cannot or will not engage in regularly luring people with such stars. As such, they need to be far more creative and lure people with ideas.

    I know a lot of what I’m saying isn’t related to the actual soccer itself, but the K-League and its teams would be shooting themselves in the foot to ignore this aspect.

    While the K-League is no EPL, the K-League is one of the best in Asia, if not the best. Yes, there is much room to improve but good marketing can help you so much in facilitating that process.

    Sometimes a product is as only as good as its marketers.

    • I posted a link in here somewhere about how Japan’s soccer popularity is starting to exceed baseball there. its all about marketing and how theyre making football sexy over there.

      Maybe one of the tavern guys can find it and post it here. I think its a very important study and pretty much an example of everything Kleague isn’t doing right now.

    • Jae is our K-League expert (seeing that he lives in the Fatherland) but I can answer the streaming question: Streaming is excellent in Korea, sites like Daum, Naver and Afreeca stream all games and I know some have replays available, SPOTV does highlights.

      That’s all I can really answer about your question. Jae can probably help you out later.

    • 1) Streaming is excellent (as Tim mentioned), but the flip-side is that TV broadcasting is mixed/poor. Games are generally only broadcasted on regional channels and if they conflict with baseball games will usually get pushed aside. AFC CL matches are usually not broadcasted at all.

      2) All the clubs have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but most are purely informative. Some clubs are attempting/beginning to utilize it more though.

      3) In short no. But, for your specific example, it’s difficult. Suwon Bluewings are technically owned by the Cheil Group now, a Samsung affiliate, but not the same group/company that the Lions are owned by. I believe the only other corporation that owns both a football and baseball team is SK (SK Wyverns and Jeju United). The difficult thing is that the teams aren’t in the same city, so trying to get people in Daegu who are Lions fans to care about a team in Suwon isn’t an easy task and vice-versa. There is also the problem that Daegu has a football team (city owned) and Suwon will have a baseball team next year (owned by KT).

      4) Broadly speaking domestic athletes are not popular enough to be included in advertising. Idols and actors/actresses dominate the CF scene here, and the only athletes that regularly get in are ones who have done things on the international stage (Kim Yuna, Park Taehwan, Son Yeonjae, Park Jisung, Ryu Hyunjin, etc).

      5) I can only really speak for Busan IPark, but I’d say you’d win that wager. K League teams do not do a great job of regularly marketing themselves. The first K League Classic game after the WC is today, and unless you’re already a fan who follows them, you’d never know it. (this goes back to point 1)

      • Interesting stuff. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten me.

        1) Honestly, I would take that tradeoff in a country like South Korea. There is no country in the world as digitally wired as Korea is. Much like how the MLS is focusing its efforts on capitalizing on a younger audience, so should the K-League. Promote streaming as much as possible and make the experience as engaging as possible. The money from broadcast is nice but I don’t think digital availability is what’s hampering broadcast. When most people have an option, they’ll choose a big TV with uninterrupted quality over a stream any day of the week. When the demand is built up, the air time will come, streams or no streams.

        2) That’s a shame. I always feel like Korean companies in general don’t understand the value of social media marketing. It’s an absolutely great way to build a loyal fan base.

        3) Good to know. I’m curious though, with corporate ownership from some Korean heavyweights, I’m sure cash is not a problem for them. Are K-League teams able to compete financially in the region with the CSL and J-League, or are companies hesitant to dole out the cash due to soccer’s relative lack of popularity?

        4) I think this just means that K-League teams need to go guerrilla in their marketing tactics. If you can’t compete toe-to-toe, go grassroots.

        Take a subway car. Turn it into, say, an FC Seoul lounge for a day with the players in tow. Film it. Make it an experience.

        Make a short, ad-like series mockumentary (something similar in tone to Jason Sudeikis and NBC when they got the EPL broadcast dael) of Choi Yong Soo taking a day to be a recreational youth league soccer coach where he’s dealing with the big diva egos of soccer star 5 year olds.

        These ideas aren’t really world beaters and I’m sure professional creatives at ad agencies could think of much better ones. Speaking of which, you would think Suwon would be much better at promoting themselves given that they’re owned by an ad agency.

        5) Again, a shame. I would argue that in the near future, no matter how much the K-League improves, it will not win over the Korean public until its marketing improves as well. Stars don’t stay in the K-League for their career span (yet) and won’t in the near future. The only way to get it there is to get the money there. The K-League can take steps to improve the league in terms of actual soccer and talent development but it won’t mean anything until they use marketing to lay the base for the big bucks.

        By the way, what does the K-League do in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets? If I recall, the J-League has been seeing some success there after focusing on building ties there.

        Given Korea’s popularity in the region, I am confident that the K-League could blow the J-League out of the water in SE Asia if they targeted the region with the right tactics.

        • I think in terms of China, don’t think K League can compete on the $$ front, cuz the top teams @ least r owned by billionaires, so it’s become an ego thing w/ them, not unlike Russian oligarchs purchasing epl teams.

          End result: these rich guys subsidize the teams, they don’t really have 2 b self-sustaining financially, they’ll accept red as long as they win. So pick up a Drogba here, a Lippi there, overpaying them obscenely. Same goes 4 attracting talent from the rest of Asia, pay more than Korean teams r even willing to fathom, so even K League players r going over there.

  2. Wow… where to start O.O Well, ofc everybody wants more attractive, free-flowing, attacking football, & SK may already have the guys for it in Ki, LCY, & Son, w/ Lee Seung Woo comin along.

    Prob is, as we all know SK doesn’t have the defense/GK to deal w/ counters, they’d get ripped apart if they move too forward, & Hong musta realized this, hence much of his conservatism, cuz really what else could he have done? As to just how deadly counters have been this WC, this article was awful edifying: http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2014/07/03/the-end-of-the-beautiful-game-world-cup-2014-is-killing-attacking-soccer/

    So yeah, need to prioritize developing good defenders & GK, & badly, cuz that’ll free up everything else, allow u to make commited, dynamic attacks w/out constant fear it’ll come back to bite u in the ass. But can Korea develop the guys required in 4 yrs?

    Hopefully so, but if there’s a shortfall, there is 1 admittedly controversial route to making up the difference: Import. European teams have been doing this for decades, either directly or drawing from immigrant populations. How many German/English/French/Dutch/Belgian players were not ethnically of those nations? & how have those nations benefited, for @ least a couple generations now?

    US w/their German contingent & Latinos, Italy w/ Balotelli, Spain & Diego Costa, it just goes on. & the Olympics, that’s like an intl buffet free-for-all; Russia w/ Ahn, US w/ whoever/wherever, Freakin Everybody in Everything… except Korea.

    Even JAPAN of all places had Havenaar & Lee Tadanari! If even hyper-purist Japan could get over the “racial exceptionalism” hump, y couldn’t Korea? CKH, 4 all his many faults, was admirably willing 2 think outside the box here, considering naturalizing his Jeonbuk Brazilian striker Eninho (who I understand was open to it).

    Back 2 the US, they bagged all those German kids cuz they were half Yank. Well, what about half Koreans? US, Can, Aus, wherever. Don’t just use hapa’s as occasional SK entertainers, but if there’s a beast athlete amongst’em, bring’em on over to the NT I say. Entice’em w/ the notion of reconnecting w/ their roots, as well as making it onto the NT when maybe their home situation was too crowded @ their position.

    That 2nd reason is what would work 4 foreigners w/ out a single drop of Korean blood: Juuust shy of good enuff 4 Brazil or Spain NT, but hey! Plenty of room over here 🙂 Pay’s good, place on NT is assured, standard of living is high, girls here r pretty, wins all around 😉

    Admittedly, a good portion, if not majority, of the SK populace may not b ok w/this, & the KFA has never been known 4 blazing trails. I’m just putting it out there, sumthin to consider. Cuz SK also needs a strong holding forward & a defender who can make attacking runs (liked Cha in this role, if not always his defense), so there r quite a few holes to fill. Can they fill them all w/ just “Pure Bloooood”? Blechh, just saying that sounds racist, I need mouthwash.

    So, if u’ve read up to here, my thx: ur patience is great, ur future is bright, & SK needs many things 🙂 Btw, have no idea how the KFA works, just that it’s generally Baaad, sorta old-boy network. K-League… no idea how to fix that either 🙁

    • Eninho, as well as Radoncic, both were open to the idea, and Radoncic even applied for Korean citizenship, but was denied. A controversial decision as at the same time, the board ruled in favor of a couple Korean-Americans who played basketball. If I recall the decision was based on available talent, and not ethnicity. The idea of bringing in non-Korean players is an interesting one, and one I’ve thought about as well, but right now there isn’t much to go with. Know any half-Koreans playing at the international level? I don’t. Tadanari Lee is the only one I know of and he’s already rejected Korea because of the abuse he got from teammates when he played for Korea at the youth levels. The best option, if you want to go this route, is to try and convince some of these players from eastern Europe and Brazil that play in the K League for several years to play for Korea. The problem there is that most aren’t up to international standards.

      • Yeah, just hoping SK leaves things open 4 when a terrific hapa does pop up & wants to play 4 SK, mebbe cuz he’s the 3rd best guy for a position & didn’t make sum country’s NT, but he’s still a great top Euro league player & really wants to play in the WC.

        Same w/ the foreigner, really good but the country he’s from has obscene world-class saturation/competition for his position; & even if he was selected, he’d b a lock 4 riding the bench. He wants to start/play, dang it!

        Ofc the nonnegotiable requirement would b that any of these guys have 2 b undeniably better than anything SK could field.

        • I’m not a big fan of naturalization or whatever its called. Would it make the KNT better? Probably. But I feel STRONGLY against it. I think Lee Young-Pyo put it best, and I’m quoting from memory, but he said something along these lines “If the player is able to put his hand on his heart during the national anthem, and feel that at that very moment he would be ready to die for Korea, then he is eligible to play for Korea.”

          that’s exactly how I feel. Personally, a player who puts on the KNT shirt should have Korean blood (in some way or another. not necessarily pure Koreans, but people who are like half-Korean, for example, but no pro footballers come to mind other than Tadanari Lee).

          I always joke about naturalization and all but I think its a little “cheap” to be honest. It’s as if – crazy example – Indonesia won the World Cup with Brazilians. It just takes away from the “National Pride” aspect of International football.

          Just a personal opinion 🙂

          • Naturalization is, of course, not a solution. It’s a temporary half-measure (at best) that attempts to bypass the hard work of setting up strong institutions that develop and market talent well. You can’t rely on it for the long-term.

            But let’s not be so rash as to say that a Korean is now defined only by his blood.

            Given that for so long, ethnicity has been the same as nationality for Koreans, it’s not surprising that this mindset often plagues us now and again.

            In our globalized world, the link between ethnicity and nationality is being broken. It will prove to be the same in Korea.

            As contradictory and silly as it sounds, a Korean doesn’t have to be Korean to be Korean.

            To refuse people who want to join us eagerly (in the context of soccer or otherwise) hurts us more than anything.

          • I can’t answer Fragor’s post for some strange reason but this is in response to his… in my opinion, a player that represents Korea should have Korean ancestry in one way or another. Born in Korea, born to Korean dad, grandmother, whatever. But ideally a Korean National Team should be represented by KOREAN players.

            Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Korea should only be represented by the so-called “pure” Koreans…. LYP puts it best.

            But I’m pretty sure any kind of naturalization won’t be well received if they absolutely NO connection to Korea by birth

          • The question then is, would you rather take say, a Korean-American who has Korean parents, but doesn’t really speak Korean, never really lived in Korea, and is very American/western in the mannerisms/personality or a complete foreigner who lived for several years in Korea, speaks the language fluently, and has adapted to Korean mannerisms?

            Basically it comes down to, “What is a Korean?” Is it blood and birth or is it something else (language, culture, etc)?

          • This is xenophobic talk. If a person fullfills the stringent requirements of what is necessary to become a Korean citizen, and they are absolutely stringent, then I have no problem whatsoever with that person playing for the NT.

            It pretty much weeds out the fakers (players who cant play for the fatherland and are looking to play for anybody).

        • Oh, I completely understand where everybody’s coming from. Ofc ideally, Korea would b represented by Koreans (same w/ every country), & absolutely there’s so much stuff that needs 2 b fixed from the ground up in Korean football.

          It’s just, as things stand, & have stood 4 a while, SK is in effect handicapping itself in a way other nations haven’t. Just struck me as not quite fair, & it’s self-inflicted, cuz, as Fragor pt’ed out, folks in Korea r still uncomfortable w/ separating nationality from blood, if not downright hostile to the notion.

          Other countries have already taken that step, that mental shift, & now benefit from it. Admittedly, a lot of these countries also used 2 b colonizers, so there’s more history & more of the organic explaining team/population diversity. Anyway, I’m just left to wonder… how would this fit us?

    • Do you think there should be the inclusion of a “World” team during the World Cup, which chooses a team from ex-pats and the best players who didn’t qualify or didn’t make national team? I’d prefer this to naturalization.

      • No. Would players like Gareth Bale have incentive to perform for Wales or would he just kind of go “eh, I gotta play because I gotta play but Wales is not going to the World Cup so there’s no point, but I am going to the World Cup as part of the World team.”

  3. I may be a little gun shy right now from the WC, but anyone else a tiny bit concerned about how much LSW is on the ground in that highlight? Those are just kids mind you. But one of the things I walked away with during this cup was how physically outmatched we were especially in the Algeria game.

    Watching the games with my fam today and Id have to say we are at least 10 years behind Germany right now.

    • Hmm, might have sumthin 2 do w/ LSW learning his trade in Spain? xP Spain’s kind of a floppin nation, ain’t it? Lol, that & Latin Amer countries, flop central, I dunno 🙂

      • Im a big Occams Razor guy. Plus those didnt look like dives. He was getting dumped. I hope he gets physically stronger.

      • Me too, tho his frame suggests he’ll never b a bulldozer. A really nifty Messi-type, w/@ least the strength/balance of Maradona, so he’s not knocked off his feet/ball all the time & he can recover quickly after contact. Or avoid it altogether, ala Messi

    • Don’t worry. He will learn the art of flopping and win a few penalties for us. #Korea’s Robben

  4. PJY is linked to Bursaspor in the Turkish Super Lig. Do you guys think this would be a good move for him? If not, where else would be better for him? Will he save his career from this low point?

    • Its frightening to me that this dude is in the prime of his life athletic life right now. It feels like he’s on the tail end.

      If he’s playing regularly, I don’t really care where he’s playing at this point because there seems to be some serious talk that he won’t ever wear the colors again in his career.

      Its a mental thing for this guy. He has the physical assets but either you’re aggressive or you’re not. You can’t train yourself to be aggressive.
      Pretty sad.

      • I remember hearing things like “near-Olympic sprinter pace” & “the ups of an NFL CB”, & this stuff was just drool-worthy…WTH happened?!

        I guess I may as well throw in Mensa-calibre IQ, tho it didn’t help him 1 bit on the pitch, not even in deciding which team 2 play 4, & projecting how things might turn out. Did he really lack that much objectivity? I’m soo glad Son has the advisers he does (told him not 2 go 2 epl); they may have saved his career.

        On a personal note, sum of the moves PCY made just didn’t sit well w/ me. Dropping PSG I think it was @ the last minute 4 Arsenal, when it was all pretty much settled: dumping the bride @ the altar cuz a hotter, richer babe starts shaking her tail. Really, dude? :/

        & not entirely sure what happened w/ the military delaying thing, but evidently wasn’t kosher in the minds of many Koreans. Seeming lack of honor, his word good only on a mercenary/opportunistic basis, & sad lack of mental will/edge. Smh 🙁

        • It was Lille he ran off from. He was supposedly at the hotel waiting to complete a medical for them when Arsenal called and he left without telling team officials.

          The military thing? He “secretly” got a 10 year residency certificate in Monaco, which allowed him to defer his enlistment for 10 years (until he was 37-38 or so). People had issues for two reasons: 1) By the time his certificate ended he could have avoided (I believe) active duty service due to age, and 2) The law that allowed it favors rich, upper-class people (who else could move to a foreign country long enough to get a certificate), which sparked a class debate. It’s been mentioned on the site before, but military service is an extremely sensitive issue here.

          • right – but one important detail to add here is that the S Korean government put their stamp of approval on the 10 year residency deal. That’s an important part of all this. Some blame PCY for draft dodging, but according to PCY, he had maintained that he would fulfill military obligations after his int’l football career was done (now moot since he helped S Korea win olympic medal in 2012). He wanted what PJS had, military exemption, thus allowing to compete fully in Europe – skills that he could hone and (most importantly) bring back to the KNT. That was the plan back when the residency was crafted, but the career move to Arsenal didn’t work out – his loan to Celta vigo fizzled out (some say due to injuries -who knows) and now adrift having not getting results at 2014 WC. How you view PCY depends on POV. I say his turning into a flop initially was not his doing. Circumstances turned him into an Arsenal flop, ultimately tragic for the KNT as they haven’t had a lot of options up front. Celta Vigo was his 2nd chance and for whatever reason he wasn’t able to make the most of it – that could’ve been a turning point. If he had any share of culpability in his undoing, one might be able to look at his time at CV.

          • Which is why I bring up point 2. It was legal but people saw it as the rich/powerful helping the rich/powerful. The average Korean can’t get a residency certificate from another country. I know it was legal and that many don’t see it as a big deal, but it was never going to be seen that way here. Circumstances may have hurt him, but Park didn’t help himself. He took two big risks and they both backfired on him.

  5. K, this armchair/TV-viewer’s wishlist:

    Son & Lee Seung Woo (LSW) make penetrating, attacking runs, including raging counters; Son pace, LSW dribble/weave.

    Ki, & mebbe LCY, supply laser-precise, perfectly weighted mid range air/thru passes, feeding these runs, w/ occasional howitzers by Ki, & Kagawa-style opportunities 4 LCY, to keep opposing defenses honest.

    Need physically strong holding forward, good technical/clinical, but mostly to preoccupy defense/create space, backwards-sideways supply Son & LSW. Ofc, goals also, more the merrier, not just empty threat.

    Defense & GK probly require personnel change, hope is lost; unless folks really feel the 2 young defenders, can’t recall their names, have good upside/chance to become world-class in the succeeding 4 yrs. Quality yet 2 b seen, will admit to much pessimism. & defenders HAVE to get better @ passing, getting the ball to midfield. Get much stronger, bully offenses, become Punks! & OFC OFC stupid mistakes/mental errors/BRAIN FARTS!! 집중 24/7!

    A defender who can also make confident attacking runs (like Cha, but better defense), worry opposing defenders, & u got any combo of Son/LSW/Ki/LCY/Holding FW/Attacking DF, ALL liable to charge @ any time; 번개, Lightning! & I think 전격전 means Blitzkrieg, which works even better 🙂

    Practice Practice PRACTICE those attacking runs & feed passes, get timing perfect, study every possible scenario/opportunity 4 fast breaks. Also, offense gets better @ helping out on defense, moving back quickly (situational awareness of when it’s necessary), & improved individual defending skills. Everybody gets better @ sensible 1-touch passing, individual & group possession, Off-Ball-Movement! Practice makes perfect.

    Football Intelligence, Anticipation & Confidence! Don’t just Survive, Thrive! Create ur own Identity, bring Your game to Them, don’t just react off their game. Always worrying about what they’ll do, blah; make them worry about what You’ll do! Don’t just play not-to-lose, play to Win! & If ur gonna go down anyway, go down w/ style, a cocky sneer on ur mug! 대한민국 화팅!!! 🙂 🙂

    • I notice everyone (understandably) talks about LSW, but I find it odd that no one ever seems to mention Jang GyeolHee. That kid is legit, too on the left flank. I can see him cracking the KMNT lineup by the the next World Cup. LSW can be Korean Messi and JGH can be Korean Di Maria. Lol

      • Probably because amongst La Masia watchers, Lee Seung-Woo is almost considered a sure thing while Jang Gyeol-Hee is more of a could be great, could be decent type. NT-wise Jang’s problem is that one Son Heung-Min plays in his position and unless Jang gets a lot better he’ll be stuck behind him for the next several years. I haven’t seen enough of him to consider him being a “Korean Di Maria”, but if he could transition into one of those CM/LM players like Di Maria has, that could be of great value.

        • I agree with you on him possibly being stuck behind Son. I think the harder thing is actually that it’s BOTH Son and LCY that are in front of him. If it was just Son, I know Son could easily move to the right. We will see in the future. As for the Di Maria comparison, I was actually just hyperbolizing for fun. I think that the Korean Boys’ national team coaching need to develop players and a system that can help players develop a little more flexibly in terms of positions, especially when that may not happen on the club/academy level. But, while you can’t project much from one or even a handful of matches, you have to admit that for that one highlight reel, against PSG, he was playing so similarly to both Di Maria’s role and position and similarly looking good doing it. One can dream. Any update on the B squad guy, Paik?

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