Korea’s 28-Man Provisional World Cup Roster

Korean National Team Manager Shin Taeyong has just announced Korea’s 28-Man Provisional World Cup Roster.

The line-up comes with its fair share of surprises. Notably, U-20 wonderkid Lee Seung-woo has very surprisingly made the squad out of seemingly nowhere, while Incheon’s Moon Seon-min is another unexpected young addition. Troyes’ journeyman power forward Suk Hyun-jun has missed out, as has Darmstadt’s Ji Dong-won and former Augsburg centreback Hong Jeong-ho.

Let’s look at some of these themes in depth:

Just F*cking Take Everybody!

Shin Taeyong has just taken everybody in the talent pool in defense, bringing 12 defenders to the 28 man roster, and leaving competition open for cuts. Jang Hyun-soo is the only highly likely starter in Russia; everything else still needs to be discussed. Kim Jin-su’s injury has left Shin “unsure” if he’ll recover in time, but the Jeonbuk fullback who missed out on the 2014 World Cup due to injury is doing light training. If ever he doesn’t, the duty will fall to three other left-backs to battle for the starting and bench spots: Park Joo-ho (Ulsan), Hong Chul (Sangju) and Kim Min-woo (Sangju). At right-back, the absence of a strong Jeonbuk presence in the defense meant that their weakest link, Choi Chul-soon, had no real reason to be called up (his performances haven’t been great). It will be down to Ko Yo-han and Lee Yong to fight for the starting position.

At centre-back, it’s a toss-up for that 2nd spot beside Jang Hyun-soo. Kim Young-gwon seems, on experience, to have the inside lane, but Kwon Kyung-won seems to have impressed in a stingy Tianjin defense in the CSL against some tough individual players. Other alternatives include Jeong Seong-hyeon, Oh Ban-seok and Yoon Young-sun – Shin may be looking who can be most comfortable in a three-back, his other preferred system.

Unfortunately, the injury to Kim Min-jae, the aggressive and youthful Jeonbuk centreback, means he’ll miss out, as will Hong Jeong-ho, the former Augsburg defender and 2014 World Cup starter, who didn’t even make the reserve list! Shin will have to answer for that.

Taking a Gamble

Shin put his reputation on the line with three surprising and eyebrow-raising selections in midfield – Lee Chung-yong, Moon Seon-min and Lee Seung-woo. The Blue Dragon probably made it at the very last minute due to the injury to Yeom Ki-hun, while Lee Seung-woo came out of nowhere, asking for an opportunity to prove himself to Shin Tae-yong after scoring against AC Milan (his first professional senior goal). Both are controversial because you can count on one hand the amount of season starts between them – but both also have some validity. Lee CY brings experience, while Lee SW can be part of a learning experience ahead of his generation’s turn at the big show in 2022.

Moon Seon-min is an unknown quantity for those who don’t regularly watch K League. He’s been a big cog in Incheon’s wheel in terms of directness and creativity, and also has experience in the Swedish league.

Faith in the Wookie

Another notable omission was Suk Hyun-jun of Troyes, who seems to have lost out to Kim Shin-wook. The Wookie has had some good showings in a KNT shirt against Asian opposition, most notably in the East Asian Cup, but has consistently struggled to dominate the air against European teams as he did back in the 2014 World Cup against Belgium. Though some could say that Suk is all of Wookie and more, Shin clearly wanted the known quantity over the sometimes inconsistent Suk. Similarly, Ji Dong-won’s lack of identity failed to compel Shin into making a positive decision on the Darmstadt center forward, leaving Kim Shin-wook as the only natural centre forward in the side.

About Tim Lee 321 Articles
The maple syrup guzzling kimchijjigae craving Korean-Canadian, eh?


  1. This I gotta say is surprising. No Jeonbuk backline like basically everyone predicted and Lee Seungwoo out of nowhere. Unfortunately the surprises end there: Jang Hyunsoo and the Wookie both made it. ughhhh

    • OK strike that, definitely a few “surprises” regarding defense, but… for the average soccer fan in Korea, they don’t know any of these KLeague defenders anyway (let’s be honest… nobody watches the KLeague, as sad as it is, it’s a fact).
      Just hope Shin Tae Yong knows what he’s doing with the defense. I think our attack can get a goal or two past Sweden and Mexico, maybe even a goal against Germany. But if those teams just slice our defense apart and pour the goals on us, it isn’t gonna matter.

      • Yeah hopefully with the new edition of lee seung woo we can get some extra goals and I pray to god that we can tighten up our defense before we play those big teams

      • We’re all still hoping Shin Tae Yong knows what he’s doing with the defense. I sure hope he’s going to at least get them in top physical form by making the team run around forever. Interestingly, no one is expecting this team to win a single game so there should be little pressure compared to previous World Cups, right?

    • The Jeonbuk backline hope died when Jeonbuk’s backline turned out to actually suck ass. Like really bad. Add on Kim Jinsu’s injury, Kim Minjae’s injury that left him off the squad, Hong Jeongho recovering from an injury and letting in 3 goals on his first game back… there was no need to bring back Choi Chulsoon or anything anymore.

  2. Haha well there’s the answer to my question from four hours ago: “Is there even a 5% chance that LSW gets a shot?”

    Two questions:
    1) Barring any injury, who are the 5 most likely to get cut? Moon Seonmin, Joo Sejong? Who are the others?
    2) Barring any injury, do Suk HJ or Ji DW have any shot of making the squad? No, right? They will only be considered if people get injured, right?

    I still can’t believe this team is toying with the idea of playing Kim SW against world class defenses. Does anyone in their right mind really think he can score against Sweden or Mexico? Shin TY is really not going to call up a forward who scored 6 goals in Ligue 1 in 1112 minutes (similar goals per minute as Kwon, who scored 11 in 2067 minutes played)?

    • Humble pie for me! I didn’t think Shin would call up Lee Seungwoo, but I’m quite okay with it.

      I’d cut Hong Chul, Yoon Youngsun, Oh Banseok, Joo Sejong and probably Moon Seonmin.

      KSW being included is insanity. He doesn’t deserve it. We’re not playing Oman, we’re playing Sweden. He’s useless against Sweden, or any other side with decent centrebacks.

    • In set pieces, standing in the box, the Wookie has as good a chance to score as anyone. Who knows, down one goal with 10 minutes left and with Son and Hwang out of gas, Shin might as well sub in the Wookie for a corner kick.

      • No. This is exactly the problem. We’ve seen them try this exact same thing before in this same situation and it hasn’t ever worked against teams that have any quality (I’m talking clubs outside of the AFC and top 70 FIFA teams). They tried it at the last World Cup, and it didn’t work there. You really think if he can’t do this against Algeria, Iran, or Serbia, he’ll be able to do it against Germany? In theory, it WAS a great idea, but at a certain point you gotta accept that it’s not working and try something else.

        • Add Morocco and Russia to the list. They keep trying it with the national team, and it’s consistently ineffective. It’s basically like rolling the dice at this point, with probably less than 5% chance of success.
          Just being tall isn’t enough. Some of the best players who score off set pieces/corners are short dudes with killer instincts, or just know how to head the ball quickly and accurately. I don’t think “killer instinct” and “the Wookie” have ever gone together.

  3. Lee Seung woo adds a little excitement to this year’s KNT that it sorely needs. C’mon, can you think of any other midfielder that would bring value to the team? I don’t know if he’ll actually see the pitch at the WC but he’ll be practicing with the senior team for the first time and may be able to find some chemistry with them.

  4. I’ve been hearing Shin Tae Yong might have picked extra defenders to use a 3 back formation at the world cup. Considering that Korea doesn’t have a proper defensive midfielder, it makes sense to have an extra CB in the lineup. I hope he doesn’t use Son as a lone striker again.

    • For sure we’ll probably pick at least 4 CBs, maybe 5. I think Son will be used as a CF, but only with a SS (in that 4-4-2). Otherwise it’s Kim Shin-wook who has to man the CF role, since Son really doesn’t excel at 1 top.

      • I think we should go with the 4-4-2 but Son and Hwang will have to be patient and picky with their attacks so as not to expend too much energy. The majority of the time we should have the bus parked and focus on frustrating the other team. This is not how Korea plays football historically but they will open themselves up defensively if they do otherwise.

    • Apparently injured… I thought he would made it to, definitely ahead of Joo Sejong. Lee has a long-distance threat that could prove useful in late game situations.

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