Tavern Podcast: Steve Han joins the crew -dissecting Korea’s wild World Cup and where Korean football goes from here

Join Roy Ghim, Tim Lee and special guest, Korean American sports journalist Steve Han as we deconstruct Korea’s wild World Cup roller coaster ride, the miracle of knocking out the World Cup defending champs Germany 2:0 after disappointing results in Group F, the heroes of Kazan like Kim Young-Gwon, Cho Hyun-Woo, Son Heung-Min, and dissecting the pros and cons of Shin Tae-Yong. Steve Han illuminates a number of shocking discoveries behind the scenes about Korea’s World Cup campaign (in fact, try jaw dropping).  Is Shin Tae-Yong going -or staying? We also look to the future, ex Barca academy player Lee Seung-Woo getting valuable World Cup experience, Valencia’s Lee Kang-In recruited by Spain in an attempt to naturalize him into becoming a Spanish citizen, and Son Heung-Min as the confirmed overage player selected for the upcoming Asian Games. Speaking of the Asian games, who could be the other 2 overage players as a new generation looks to vie for military exemption and unshackle their footballing careers to help bolster the future of Korean football?  Finally we look briefly at where Korean football goes from here, including a sharp focus on some pretty damning observations about the ineffectiveness at the very top of the Korean FA.  Join us for this wild ride back into Korea’s weird World Cup campaign – a cognitive dissonance into total ineptitude followed by absolute brilliance.


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  1. Awesome pod! Thanks also for posting to Apple Podcasts. That surprise reveal from Steve was genuinely jaw dropping.

    Regarding the Asian Games, it’s really a shame that Kwon got hurt when he did (both because of the WC and the Asian Games exemption opportunity). Looks like Tokyo 2020 will be his next / only chance at exemption, right? He’ll be 28 by the 2022 Asian Games. Anyway, I’m obviously hoping that Suk gets picked as an overage player but understand the need for a defender. Will GK Cho/Jo get picked? Finally, anyone know how Kim Min-jae’s recovery is progressing? Will he be ready?

    Finally, this was interesting… I suppose if I had to pick between the two, I would obviously prefer that Son play in the Asian Games to get a chance at exemption. But it’s disappointing that he would have to miss out on the Asian Cup. It would be a huge morale booster if the KNT were to win that tourney.

    “The current situation is further complicated because the 2019 Asian Cup will be held in January in the United Arab Emirates and, as a Fifa tournament, South Korea have the right to summon Son. However, it is thought Spurs could allow Son to compete in the Asian Games only if South Korea allow him to miss the continent’s showpiece tournament.”

    • So, the overage player topic is a post in the works – it sounds like Kim Hak-bum is leaning towards Son, Cho and Hwang Ui-jo. This would end up picking no overage defender, and no Suk.

      I haven’t seen much news on KMJ’s recovery but my understanding is that he’ll be ready in time for the AG.

      And.. I’m not so sure about that one. It’s a little confusing to me – John Duerden, the Asian football expert reported the same, but Son said recently that “he would play for the national team anytime, anywhere”.

      Of course, as much as it hurts our chances at breaking the AC spell, he has to play in AG – that’s the priority and easiest shot at exemption.

      re: KCH, really shitty situation for him definitely. That is correct, Tokyo 2020 is his last chance, since by 2022 he’ll be ineligible for Sangju Sangmu, and therefore taking a big risk (could play abroad until 30-31 but then has to do the normal military service afterwards — Sangju is almost a “luxury” service at times…)

  2. Awesome podcast. Seriously, I think I could listen to you guys talk for another hour.

    1.) Suk–Why does he get no love? Did his father do something? Did he not pay the right person? I think it is absolutely ridiculous that this guy has not received the appropriate opportunity for play for Korea.

    2.) AFC Cup. I hope you guys can talk about that the next podcast. I think there is a lot to talk about. What drives me crazy is how Korea seems to play down their level when Korea plays subpar teams.

    Again, the podcast was a such a pleasure to listen.

    • I have absolutely no idea what Suk has done to get no love from the KFA. My only rational response is that they judged his performance in Rio at another U23 level as not very good. They may think he just doesn’t bring enough to the squad to warrant a wildcard. For Hwang Ui-jo, he has apparently (I have no clue as I don’t watch J1 League) played well in Japan. So Kim Hak-bum must like what he is seeing there and also maybe believes that with an exemption Hwang Ui-jo could win a move to Europe, which would be a huge surprise and in my mind, not a bad thing. Have I seen anything good from Hwang Ui-jo whenever I’ve watched him with the KNT? No, but I’m ready to be surprised.

  3. Do you guys think KCH will come back to his normal form after his Achilles injury? That is a very tough injury to come back from in all sports.

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