Midweek roundup + Lee Seung-Woo’s goal: Ballon d’Or

Jeremy can’t do the midweek roundup so I’m filling in. Short but sweet, let’s get to it:

Kim Bo-Kyung & Wigan couldn’t manage Millwall, lost 2-0 on Tuesday and are further in trouble, more than 8 points from safety.

K-League Round 6 results

Wednesday, April 15
Busan IPark
FC Seoul
Jeju United
Gwangju FC



K-League Challenge Results

Gangwon 0 – 1 Goyang Hi

Sangju Sangmu 3 – 2 Seoul E-Land FC

Daegu 2 – 2 FC Anyang

Bucheon 1995 0 – 0 Chungju Hummel

Suwon City 2 – 2 Ansan Police



K-League Talking Points:

  • To use the Jefferson’s theme song (yes -I’m that old) FC Seoul are moving on up (sing with me, moving on up!).  First couple of games, the capital club were racing with Daejeon to the bottom. Since Park Chu-Young’s arrival, they’ve been undefeated, going 2 wins and a draw in their last 3 league matches.  [note: I did get to see a good part of the game live, a bit lacking in attendance, some varying degree of quality on pitch, but a stellar goal by Kim Hyun-Sung to make himself a human missile, launched himself on trajectory and struck the ball with his head into the net.
  • Emphatic win for Pohang, the Steeler sent Jeonnam to the lockers 4-1. First blood goes to Moon Chang-Jin, brace by Son Joon-Ho and finally Kim Seung-Dae sealed it up. Kim Young-Wook with Jeonnam’s consolation goal in stoppage time.
  • Some controversy in Sangju as Seoul-Eland looked to have earned a point and an away draw with the army team. Last minute goal crushed that opportunity -but there’s some talk that a red card issued to a Seoul E-Land player was without merit. See for yourself:




Tavern Kickaround

We start in England where Ji So-Yun has been a lovely beast for Chelsea Ladies – a congratulations is in order for this today:


Back to Korea where the Nike Most Wanted Challenge has wrapped up in Paju – and we have a winner: 16 year old Kim Ho-Seung, a virtual unknown with zero hype factor, this according to the Korea Times. The 2nd year Boin High School (Seoul) student will now fly to England compete at St George’s Park for Nike’s Global Showcase at the end of April. Should he win a spot in Nike’s academy, he’s virtually assured a European club contract – though perhaps not with a top flight club.  Though Boin High has been known for producing quality football talent (count Mainz’ Koo Ja-Cheol as an alum), Kim wasn’t on many people’s radar as he hasn’t featured regularly for Boin’s team. However, he killed the skills performance test and excelled at a SPARQ analysis (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness).  What really got the attention of the national team coaches was his performance during scrimmages. From the Korea Times: “As he dribbled past some four or five opponents in the front line during the second half, Korea Football Association coaches who evaluated the players became interested…”  Maybe it helped that he played as a midfielder instead of his usual leftback position.  Anyway, good luck to Kim and his journey/challenge in England.


Ki Sung-Yeung has already surpassed Park Ji-Sung’s record for most goals by a Korean in a Premier League season (Ki’s 7th scored against Hull 2 weeks ago) but despite accolades coming in from all quarters of the English football media, he gets nothing but guff from his father.  Ki Young-Ok critiqued his son’s forward adventures this season, telling Naver that his heading capabilities are lacking. According to senior Ki, his ‘uma’ also agrees that his inability to score headers is a liability. I have to pause for a moment – it’s incredibly hilarious, the narrative framed is pure Korean comedy gold, whereby nothing – not even beating Ji-Sung’s record in the Premiership – is ever good enough for a Korean father. Is that why, perhaps, we also find the elder Ki unable to contain himself and his opinions about football, that he’s done sitting by the sidelines with this news: Ki Young-Ok has stepped into the role of being Gwangju FC’s new general manager, this according to Yonhap news. General Ki at Gwangju FC.  Is the balance of power shifting in the K-League?

Hoo hoo hoo – senior Ki’s moment in the media-light not over yet: this just in from the twittersphere:

hmm…no comment from me on that one.

We were speaking of Park Ji-Sung earlier, the newly named Suwon JS Cup [named for Suwon’s favorite hometown hero] 2015 U18 tournament is about to kickoff later this month. Here’s a promo for it:

And here’s the schedule for the tournament:


As it relates to Team Korea’s fixtures:

Korea v Uruguay     WED April 29    7am EST / 8pm Korea Time

Korea v Belgium      FRI May 1      4am EST / 5pm Korea Time

Korea v France       SUN May 3     5am EST / 6pm Korea Time


The big news rippling from this event is Lee Seung-Woo and Paik Seung-Ho, both Barcelona academy players given the green light by the club to participate in this. Many in Korea are anticipating seeing especially Lee Seung-Woo, who responded to the media about his “Korea Messi” moniker. From Steve Han’s write up in KoreAm today:

“It’s an honor to be called the Korean Messi,” Lee said in a press conference at the Incheon Airport on Wednesday after he arrived from Spain to join Korea’s under-18 team for the upcoming international tournament in Suwon. “I want to be the best just like Messi. Just like Messi, my goal is to win the Ballon d’Or.”


Whoa, did he just say his goal was to win the Ballon d’Or?  Bold words, but as Steve Han wrote in his piece about him, “[Lee] is never shy about making bold statements.”

Take for example’s last year’s bold prediction from Lee before an AFC Championship match, yes that one where he said “Beating a team at the level of Japan would be easy” initially raised a lot of eyebrows. Some were worried that he’d either jinxed Korea in the tournament or had become too cocksure of his own abilities and would regret it on the pitch. It didn’t happen. He backed up his words with a brilliant brace that left Japan in the dust 2-0.

The ever quotable Lee also generated news for his hope that he would become the youngest Korean to represent the Taeguk Warriors on the senior squad. Tavern Statistician, time to earn your salary dammit!  “IR-RE-WA! BALLI BALLI!”

Tavern Statistician:

Yes Tavern Owner… the record holder is Kim Pan-Keun and in 1983 he stepped onto the pitch for his first cap at age 17…and 241 days.  For Lee Seung-Woo, who turned 17 on January 6, he has until September 2015 to beat Kim Pan-Keun’s record. There are only 6 Korean National Team games scheduled out that far, the first World Cup Qualifier against Myanmar (Burma) followed by the EEA tournament late summer against China, Japan and North Korea.



Well then. Nicely done Tavern Statistician. You get to keep your job.


One more thing on Park Ji-Sung:

The AFC Quarterly may sound like propaganda from yet another Sepp Blatter kowtowing entity, but the latest issue has something on Ji-Sung and his role as a Man U football ambassador. He seems to be doing more than just fulfilling a perfunctory role, he has a lot on his mind on systemic issues relating to Korean/Asian football and bridging the quality gap with Europe. From the article:

He [Park Ji-Sung] believes there is a need to put new infrastructure in place to take advantage of the strengths of the region and mitigate against the weaknesses…”I know the systems between Asia and Europe are different so we need to develop as quickly as we can, but as soon as we do then we can really be similar to Europe. It’s definitely a long-term project…”


Update: 4th Round of the Korean FA Cup draw is in….

and here’s the roster announced for the U18 squad. We’ll update in english at some point soon, but it’s late, 1:16am here and I’m about to close the Tavern for the night. Pook Cha!



but I still don’t see Barca academy teammate Jang Gyeol-hee…why isn’t he on the roster?


Last word: I had the misfortune of turning off the radio after coming home from my son’s soccer practice, the last tune was sung by Phil Collins.  And whatever that song is, it’s still pinging around in my head. Please…stop the misery.  Since the ultimate football hipster Jurgen Klopp is leaving BVB, I’ve been thinking about the essence of ‘hip’.  How to describe it?  At the very least, the essence of hip would have to include good quality music. Not conventional, but original, unique and very very cool.  I know there are people from all over the world tuned into the Tavern, what are bands from where you are at that you consider ‘hip’? or at the very least, not square.  From New Zealand to Iceland, from Seoul to Barcelona, knowing that music is very subjective, what’s something cool and under the radar that you can turn me onto?  And you better damn well better not say Phil Collins…

About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
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  1. I may be wrong on this (trying to find rules/regs on East Asian Cup) but I’m fairly certain that Lee Seung-woo cannot play in that tournament. I’m not sure if it’s in the rules that only domestic league players are used or if it’s more of a gentleman’s agreement. I said it on Twitter to Tim, but basically if Lee SW wants to get called and break the record it’ll need to be in June for the (likely) friendly and first World Cup qualifier. I can’t see him being called for September because the U17 World Cup kicks off a few weeks after that and Stielike won’t disrupt any of his preparation for that.

    One slightly ironic (imo) thing about Son Heung-min and Lee Seung-woo. Son’s idol is Cristiano Ronaldo, his playing style is like him, and his nickname is based on him, yet Son’s personality seems more Messi like (quieter, team player, and such). On the other hand, Lee’s idol is Messi, his playing style is more like him, and his nickname is based on him, yet Lee’s personality seems more like Ronaldo (wants individual awards/records, flashier, little petulant on the pitch).

    • Excellent observation on Son (heart) Ronaldo v LSW (heart) Messi , yet their own personalities reflects the opposite idol’s personal idiosyncrasies. That seems very much the case, and yes, as you say, very ironic!

      Interesting, gentlemen’s rule on only Asian based players in the EEA?…I’d be curious what you find on the rules regarding that. I’ll get my own Tavern Stats man to also see if he can get an answer. Poor guy, he’s got an awful abusive boss…

      Anyway, I hope Uli hasn’t ruled LSW out for Myanmar. I know it’s a WCQ but as a definite minnow, could be an opportunity to feature a quasi experimental roster that includes LSW. We’ll see I guess.

      • I hope LSW doesn’t and Uli Stielike flat out ignores LSW until he does something as a pro. It’s unfortunate & he might be ready.. but since he hasn’t played in a while, no reason to hurry him. Kid is cocky enough, no reason to further boost his ego without actually earning it.

        • Good point, rust to shed, and pro performance is not a bad benchmark to determine KNT readiness. Still, given lee Jung-hyub’s unstellar busan stats, I just don’t know what metrics Uli used to make to that particular call up. His overall effectiveness is still up for debate but it wasn’t a waste of a call up. Let’s see what happens. It’s not end of the world either way.

          • LJH is fully grown adult. LSW isn’t.. that’s a big difference =)

            Anyways, look at guys like Julian Green or Martin Odegaard. I don’t care how grounded a teen is, they’re still kids at the end.

    • LOL brilliant observation dude – I never caught that but the irony is real
      I also don’t think LSW should be called up too early – as Roy said there’s a lot if rust to shed, though I don’t think there’s much harm in giving him like 10 minutes or so just for kicks
      As long as he’s bled in slowly it can’t be that bad

    • Love the way that Son can work with any team, I feel that may be why managers love using him as he can adapt to any situation.
      I don’t think it would hurt for LSW to be given a chance, if these guys are our future, it definitely would benefit them being hustled off the ball and being shown that strength can be a major factor in the game too.

  2. Whats going to happen when Korean football falters or stumbles in the coming months, seasons, years when LSW isn’t part of the setup which it inevitably will? Koreans will be huffing and puffing regardless. Its a classic damned if you do damned if you don’t situation which is even more pronounced in Koreas society with our propensity towards the blame game (e.g., Sewol, KAL mac nut, toffee throwing, etc etc etc). Like the scorpion and the dog, its in our nature.

    I think getting in the way of the LSW bus will be like a guy trying to get a runaway freight train by standing in its way and putting his hand up.

    I have no doubt this kid will be called up shortly given the quality of our up front.

  3. Also some good local music for me is:
    San Cisco, Last Dinosaurs, Ball Park Music, Angus and Julia Stone and Flume.
    (I’m hoping you wanted these).
    And would anyone be kind enough to explain to me what the ranks of Barca are? Like I dont understand the whole Cadette A, B etc. and want to know the lowest to highest…

  4. Just praying that all of the promises we see in LSW will be met….

    But after grounding oneself to reality… you gotta admit it’s not the most likely thing to happen (LSW winning Ballon d’Or) if you just consider the unexpected injuries, or just the unseen plateau in LSW’s skill from the years that are even yet to come (until he turns into a mature footballer… mid 20s?).

    But LSW’s story makes such a great hope-quenching story, b/c all of us here can acknowledge YES – there is A CHANCE that this kid can be not just “Korean Messi,” but actual the new “Messi” (i.e. … the “Woo”). If few things line up justttt right (like not getting injured or continuing on a steady growth in skills) then in 5-10 years… holy shit, we get to say, “The greatest footballer in the world is South Korean.”

    How fun would that be to say?

    Also, I hope KSY is just laughing at the reinforced Asian stereotype that was committed by Ki’s unsatisfied parents… b/c I am.

    Come on Mr./Mrs. Ki, your son is currently the greatest Korean footballer (arguably next to Son Heung-Min

    A thought-provoking article – thanks Roy.

    • To be fair to Ki Sr, I’m more than certain he’s proud of his son and has said very complimentary things as well, but yeah, the Asian stereotype/unsatisfied parents narrative painted with his ‘header critique’ was incredibly funny. I had a good laugh for quite a while.

      yeah it was fun writing that post – thx for reading and tuning in!

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