Korea National Team March Call Ups – WCQ

Korea NT boss, Uli Stielike, has announced his much awaited call ups for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against China and Syria. And well… his choices were not surprising (with one exception), and were widely panned in their familiarity and predictability. Read on (more after the jump).

Goalkeepers: Kim Seung-gyu (Vissel Kobe), Kwoun Sun-tae (Kashima Antlers), Kim Dong-jun (Seongnam FC)

Defenders: Kwak Tae-hwi (FC Seoul), Kim Kee-hee (Shanghai SIPG), Jang Hyun-soo (Guangzhou R&F), Kim Min-hyeok (Sagan Tosu), Hong Jeong-ho (Jiangsu Suning), Kim Jin-su (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Lee Yong (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Kim Min-woo (Suwon Samsung), Choi Chul-soon (Jeonbuk Hyundai)

Midfielders: Ko Myung-jin (Al Rayyan), Koo Ja-cheol (FC Augsburg), Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City), Nam Tae-hee (Lekhwiya FC), Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur), Jung Woo-young (Chongqing Lifan), Ji Dong-won (FC Augsburg), Han Kook-young (Al Gharafa), Heo Yong-jun (Jeonnam Dragons)

Forwards: Hwang Hee-chan (RB Salzburg), Kim Shin-wook (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Lee Jeong-hyeop (Busan IPark)

Stielike has once again gone with his tried and tested(?) squad with Heo Yong-jun of Jeonnam and Seongnam’s Kim Dong-jun making debut appearances for Stielike’s squad. Kim Min-hyeok has been called before, but has not officially made his KNT senior team debut. Otherwise it’s a lot of familiar faces.

Kim Seung-gyu has reportedly been decent for current J1 table toppers Vissel Kobe, while Kwoun Sun-tae has been okay for new club Kashima Antlers. Kim Dong-jun has been okay in Seongnam’s two games, and is most likely just in camp for Stielike and his staff to take a closer look at the young stopper. He continues to polarize opinion, but Kawasaki’s Jung Sung-ryong is possibly the only debatable omission from the list (probably in place of Kwoun Sun-tae, Jung did make the reserve list). Cerezo’s Kim Jin-hyeon, another Stielike favorite, is nursing a back problem.

Defense isn’t particularly impressive to see. The centerbacks are largely the CSL contingent with Kim Young-gwon still missing (injury). Our CSL CBs are currently suffering quite a bit as the league suddenly changed their rules on foreign players to include AFC players, and the entire country is going through an anti-Korea phase in response to the Korean government’s decision to deploy the US’s THAAD missile defense system. Hong Jeong-ho and Kim Kee-hee, while decent players, are always good for a mistake or two in a game. Jang Hyun-soo remains decidedly average in this writer’s opinion. Kwak Tae-hwi seems to be showing his age for FC Seoul, and Kim Min-hyeok is untested at this level. Kim Jin-su seems to be enjoying a bit of a revival at Jeonbuk, and he is joined by teammates Choi Chul-soon and Lee Yong. Suwon’s Kim Min-woo, a versatile player who can also play in midfield, rounds out the calls.

The midfield is also well-known to KNT followers. Son Heung-min is suspended for the match against China, so he will only feature against Syria. Lee Jae-sung (Jeonbuk) is injured while Kwon Chang-hoon has been overlooked as he tries to settle with new club Dijon. Kim Bo-kyung has, once again, inexplicably been left out of the squad again. Ki Sung-yueng is just back from injury with Swansea, but hasn’t really been in Paul Clement’s plans. Heo Yong-jun (Jeonnam) is the only real surprise face in this squad. Heo is another versatile player, but seems (on the face of things) to be decidedly average and not likely international quality.

Lee Jeong-hyeop fresh of scoring in back-to-back games for Busan, is back in the fold. Kim Shin-wook AKA plan B is also in. Youngster Hwang Hee-chan rounds out the forwards.

Possible line up vs China

Honestly, my biggest annoyance with this squad is the complete lack of Jeju United players. Jeju is easily (my opinion of course) the best team in the young K League season, and they have played four solid games against Jiangsu Suning, Gamba Osaka, Incheon United, and Ulsan Hyundai. How Stielike has managed to overlook all of the players is a mystery to me. Ahn Hyun-beom, Lee Chang-min, Oh Ban-seok are all worthy of a place in the squad over some of those who made it. But, it’s Stielike so I can’t say I feel a huge amount of disappointment simply because it’s expected.

Tim’s thoughts

Honestly, one of the reasons why I loved the Tavern before I became a writer was because of Jae’s ability to perfectly capture what I was thinking. And he’s done it again here, so really I don’t have that much to add. Instead, here’s a table of call-ups I would have done differently and why:


Stielike’s Pick, My Pick, Reason

Heo Youngjoon, Ahn Hyeonbeom, Stielike went with tried & untested. While he’s at it, he should have gone with Ahn’s raw pace on the right wing instead of this fairly unknown winger.

Choi Chulsoon, Oh Banseok, See Jae’s reasoning.

Ko Myungjin, Lee Myungjoo, While Ko’s stay in the Middle East has gone fairly unnoticed, Lee has received raving reviews from his exploits at Al-Ain.

Jung Wooyoung, Kim Bokyung, I don’t particularly rate Jung. While Lee MJ can fill in as DM, Kimbo can bring some Jeonbuk chemistry to the MF with Kim Shinwook and the Jeonbuk fullbacks.

Lee Jeonghyeop, Yang Donghyun, We know that Lee is decidedly average. There are other not-too-old Korean striker options – Park Chuyoung, Lee Jongho, Kim Seungdae to name three – and Pohang’s Yang Donghyun is another. He’s stronger in the air than Lee and a tad less mobile, but a far better finisher. Worth a look.



What do you think of the call ups? Someone Stielike missed? Shocked someone made it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

About Jae Chee 339 Articles
A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.


  1. Lee Jeonghyub has potential and despite being very raw has a good scoring rate/game. I like him. Yang Dong Hyun and Kim Seung Dae, imo, not very good. I’m all in on a Park Chuyoung return though. To me Jung Woo Young can be a good backup to KSY as he is a similar type of player, while Lee Myeong Joo (admittedly have not seen much of him) seems more like an AM of which we have a plethora of quality options. He’s worth a test though. Overall, very uninspiring callups and the future looks bleak.

    • While I like LJH (Busan connection), I’m not sure we can really consider him raw or having potential. He’s already 25 and is in his 5th year as a pro. His scoring rate isn’t brilliant (5 in 16 KNT apps, about 20 in 100+ K League). That being said, I’m not wholly against his inclusion because I do think he brings off the ball work and movement, and could help bring in the attacking midfielders. But he is not and will not be a world class forward that we can count on to score regularly.

      Yang Donghyun I have a massive bias against, and Kim Seungdae I think is slightly similar to Hwang Heechan (who is better). Lee Myeongjoo is a box-to-box runner, and he is more attack minded than defensive.

    • I believe Lee has been playing more of a DM role in the Middle East. If Ki isn’t ready Stielike has said he will turn to Kim Bokyung from the reserve list.. why not call-up Kim and leave Jung Wooyoung in the reserve list.

      Stielike’s really refused to call-up Park Chuyoung on purpose but given Park’s bigger role at Seoul this year I think he could come into the fray soon.

      • Nice post Jae. Tim, I thought Suk Hyun-Jun would be the answer post-Park but he’s not having a successful club career after transfer to FC Porto and loan. It’s almost sad we’re forced to consider PCY every year. Just goes to show the dearth of world class talent at forward for KNT. But I do think PCY had a good 2016 and his free-kick goal in the ACL loss to Shanghai shows the skills are still there. If PCY starts consistently for FC Seoul, I would like to see him back in the national team because the other options are LJH, KSW neither are the answer and Hwang Hee-Chan who has potential but not proven. I’m also tired of seeing 4-2-3-1. There is no KNT striker who can make his own shots up top when facing elite defenses. SHM from the wing but no striker. Maybe a more fluid 4-3-3 like Portugal but that’s difficult to implement with the limited practice time and defense is vulnerable with old KTH. 4-4-2 maybe but are it seems we’re trying to fit tactics to our blue chip players SHM and KSY with 4-2-3-1. Also very concerned that LCY hasn’t played much for Crystal Palace and dropped from KNT. We need him back on form before Russia 2018.

          • I also think Korea doesn’t have player who can play as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, especially with Suk Hyun joon in poor form. Maybe, Ji Dong-won can play up top, but he might not be good enough against really defensive teams. Korea should experiment with a 4-4-2 or even a 3-5-2. I would like to see Son play as a striker with someone else. Son seems to have done well as a striker for Tottenham this season.

        • Personal opinion but I wouldn’t be against Lee Chungyong returning to Korea. Not sure what else he has to accomplish in Europe and he’s been unremarkable at Premier League level. Importance is just getting playing time ahead of 2018 (if we qualify).

  2. Actually, omission of Gu SY is a big debate for me. Imo, he was the best Korean GK (Jung SR was 2nd) in JLeague last season. Yes, he played in J2 with Consodole Sapporo but if I were to consider some of his brilliance + future potential… am disappointed he was left out for Kwon ST (avg w/ Kashima w/ some awful errors so far).

    On the discussion of Jeju players missing out… I’m actually okay with it. I can see the case for Ahn HB (as winger & wingback) but besides him, I just don’t see a case. Not enough data to suggest they deserve it after 2 games of KLeague (for ex – Lee CM had that great goal in ACL & is doing okay in K League so far but he was mostly forgotten last season nor is he better option over others players… such as Kimbo imo. Too many players ahead of Lee CM in the positions he occupies).

    • See, that’s interesting, the Gu Sungyun bit. I’ve never rated Kwoun all too much so it’s interesting to hear about Gu again. Though right now no question number 1 goalkeeper is Kim Seunggyu.

      While we’re at it, what’s happened to Kim Jinhyeon? Does he just suck again?

      • Not sure if Kim SG is no question #1 for Korea. I don’t think he was ever convincing in the manner of Kim JH at Asian Cup from all of his caps.. nor is he that convincing for Kobe too. As for Kim JH, he is out injured and Cerezo is hurting for it. Again, while his KNT performance has been poor or absent from KNT call up ever since the debacle vs Spain.. I would argue.. he is above Kim SG in JLeague. Kim JH has one strength that is unquestioned compared to his peers… his ability w/ his feet. His distribution is tops compared to guys who can only boot (in Kim SG.. often out of bounds and to absolutely no one). However, of course.. this gets him in trouble at times as he can be erratic in coming off his line.

        As for Gu SY.. remember, he eventually became #1 GK for Korea in 2016 Olympics.

        • Jung’s distribution is also good. Kim JH struggled with distribution a bit in the Asian Cup but I’ve always heard his distribution is tops. Kwoun does bring nothing to the KNT though.

  3. Park Chu-Young should be in over some of these guys, but Stielike is trying to avoid causing a commotion and distraction with the media attention. I wonder how many goals he has to score this season for Stielike to take the chance.

  4. What about Jung Jo-gook, who scored the most goals in the K-league last season? and Lee Dong Gook? or has he already retired from the national team?

    I would also like to see Kim Bo-kyung on the team. He should start for both of the upcoming games.

    • Neither have retired for the national team but I’m wondering what good it does for NT to call up two, aged players who have witnessed a mini-renaissance in the K League. Neither are very mobile and I think would be marked out easily on an international level. If we’re talking about a 2 up front formation with a limited role, then I could maybe see it happening, but so as long as we’re playing one forward up top I don’t think it helps the national team to bring either of them into the fray.

  5. Are there still people that despise Park CY? Why?
    They should know we don’t have better options atm.
    We desperately need his freekick skills and off the ball movement. He’s a smart player and he’s saved the KNT a number of times. Added bonus is that he scores regularly against the Chinese.

    • Of course people still despise him because of the military thing and he brings baggage to the KNT… Stielike has really tried to avoid that pressure. Another thing is Stielike hasn’t worked with Park…. like, at all. He’s a smart player, but I think a little premature to bring him in in March. Let him get off the mark at Seoul first.

  6. “….Stielike hasn’t worked with Park…. like, at all.”

    That seems to be Stielike’s problem. He’s stubborn and continually recalls the same underperforming fools.

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