So over the past few days, most of the stuff we’ve posted at the Tavern has been K League stuff. But I post one article about Hong Myung-bo and suddenly we’re doubling our daily view count – and I’m not complaining! However this begs the question… why does nobody give a shit about the K League? Here are a couple reasons why we, collectively as Korean football fans, must support the 2016 K League Classic season.
But first… Common reasons for not supporting the K League
- It’s boring: Okay, well I have said this before. But it’s not entirely accurate. There are certain teams, such as Incheon, who orient their game around scraping 1-0 wins or just continuously drawing because of their ability to have a solid defense and be structurally sound. But give the Jeonbuk-Seoul game a try this weekend and I bet you’ll find it’s not actually as boring at all! Adriano takes your breath away with his pace which turns on a knife’s edge, while we all know what Lee Jae-sung is about – those pinpoint passes and his killer instinct are sure not to disappoint.
- It’s hard to watch live matches, they’re at night: This is also true. But this season, we can’t possibly have any excuses. If you want to support your new team with in depth previews and game recaps, then our friends over at K League United have you covered. But don’t go! The Tavern this season will offer a coverage of the K League that is better than ever before. We’ve got previews, recaps, and our new English-language K League weekly highlight show, “Tavern Match of the Day”. Jinseok and I have got the technology blips mostly nailed down, so we should be making some very cool highlight shows for you. If you’ve got 20-30 minutes a day, then you can catch up on all the K League action.
Two reasons why it’s worth supporting the K League
- Future KNT’ers/European players in the making: I mean guys, come on. Ki Sung-yueng and Lee Chung-yong didn’t just come out of nowhere. They came from Seoul! And all these new KNT’ers – Lee Jae-sung, Kwon Chang-hoon, Hwang Ui-jo – they all currently represent K League teams. There is also an incredible about of raw youth talent – think 2022 World Cup generation players. Kim Gun-hee, Jung Won-jin, Kim Dong-jun, Hwang In-beom, Seo Myeong-won, Kim Jung-hwan…. the list goes on. Jinseok can probably add more names here – he’s our youth expert for sure. But the point is – it’s got everything you need. A mix of veteran experience with players on the brink of their prime and youngsters using the K League as a stepping stone to achieving their bigger dreams.
- Domestic football is crucial to the national team’s success: Germany 2014. Spain 2010. Italy 2006. The common thread between those three World Cup wins? Their squad had a very high concentration of players from the same team and/or the same league. Uli Stielike has mentioned this before – how he wants a core of players in his selection from the best club(s) in Korea. Although inevitably a lot of Korean players will go on to play club football in Europe, it’s completely reasonable to expect to have 3-4 players from the best K League teams in the starting XI, with several more coming off of the bench. In many cases, top level K League player will perform better than a European player who’s not starting games.
How can I support the K League?
- If you’re in Korea? Go to some games!: It’s very cheap and affordable (10000 won? So roughly 10 dollars.). Sure, the atmosphere isn’t great, but it’s also chicken or egg. The atmosphere can only get better if people go and make the atmosphere better. People can’t just sit around and moan about the atmosphere if those people themselves do not show up to matches! Though if you’re still not convinced, the Seoul-Suwon Super Match can hit around 40,000 people or more, while a lot of Jeonbuk games can break the 15,000-20,000 mark, depending on the opponent.
- Buy some swag: Purchasing K League merchandise is also a good way of telling clubs what they’re doing right and doing poorly. Although for most clubs the ordering has to be done online, at Seoul, Jeju and others, there are team shops set up in front of the ground on match day. Even something as simple as a scarf sends a good message.
- Follow English-language sites that cover K League: Namely us, the Tavern, kleaguefootball.com and K League United. The more viewers we attract, the more motivated we are to cover the K League, and the ideal is that we are sort of paying it forward, by encouraging people to follow a K League club more directly – whether that is just commenting on their posts on social media or purchasing a kit and scarf.
So, give it a try. You might like it. Trust me – the K League is worth it.
Will definitely give the K-League a go this year, thanks guys!
You guys are totally right in asking that question, and your points are very true- it’s the only way for the national team to develop. But the answer unfortunately is very simple. The English speaking fans of this site can’t do much to save the KLeague. The fans of this site who don’t live in Korea can’t do much either. It’s on the KFA and the Korean public. I used to teach English in Korea, and my students who didn’t speak English well were very good at saying “k-league sucks!” I’m a fan of football and I went to an FC Seoul game and had a good time… but it’s hard to get into it (not to mention sad) when the stadium is barely 40% full. Koreans seem to care about sports only when national pride is at stake (baseball is an exception… but it has more to do with the ease of watching a game -price and location- and the culture around it).
Other countries to me actually care about football apart from their national team … not sure I can say the same about Korean football fans. I ask the writers from this site a question: why did you fall in love with the sport in Korea enough to want to create this site? Did you become a fan of football in Korea because: a) you became a fan of the sport FIRST by playing it, b) you became a fan FIRST by watching the domestic league, or c) you became a fan FIRST by watching South Korea play the World Cup, most likely in 2002? I’m willing to bet most of you would honestly answer c. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But a lot of countries in the world with a dominant domestic league would answer a or b.
Koreans would prefer to watch European leagues, and their best players never stay in Korea. So for Koreans, what’s the point of watching the KLeague? Korean sports in general are just not as developed as other countries. Baseball is literally the only non-national sport that is watched. In order to make the K-League relevant to Koreans, a lot of aspects of Korean culture have to change, and that’s unfortunately a very uphill battle.
I guess to sum it up, I would say that if the motivation for the KLeague to improve is just to improve the national team itself, you’ve already lost the battle. The desire to improve the KLeague should probably be just for love of the game and to give the Korean population something to enjoy for themselves.
Love the site boys, keep it up!
haha I agree with 100% of what you said, even for why we started watching football in the first place – all of us started with the national team! Because it’s a fact that Koreans have incredible national pride but most will shit on the K League (my own family members included…)