The Tavern Mailbag – August Edition (Answers)

Answers to the questions left in the mailbag for August. So far the other writers have been busy with other obligations. Jinseok has gotten most of his answers down, so I’ll go ahead and post my responses with what Jinseok has done. And I’ll update it with Roy’s when he has a chance to send me his stuff.  [update: Roy here -just catching my breath with school starting up again -sorry for delay, thanks Jae and Jinseok for being on the ball with the mailbag this month!] Thanks for all the questions.

From Paco:

I want all 3 tavern writers to HONESTLY jot their feelings about our dark murky future……………………………………………………………………

Jae: Well, I try to be at least a little optimistic about the future, but I think the darkest, realist future I can envision is one where things just stay the same. I don’t think we’re heading for any sort of cliff where the team descends into a state of crap. But, I could see one where we just continuously have the same problems we’ve had the past year. No attacking threat, pointless sideways and backwards passing, and frustrating defensive lapses. Early exits from World Cups, struggling through qualification, etc.

Jinseok: The darkest part is over imo. As Jae said, at worst it will descend to Choi Kang Hee level but I don’t see that happening and HMB can only improve the KNT. Also, our players are experiencing more success at the club level than ever (though I worry a bit for Ki and Ji)  so all we need is for our manager to put the talent together into a world class team. It will, however, take some time, to develop the chemistry and develop a true Korean football identity.

Roy: Great question. There’s the glass half full – in short -Hong coming in as coach is real reason for recent optimism. But to address directly the root of angst – for me, you and plenty of other supporters -there’s the elephant in the room, namely the military conscription issue that – while it provides the manpower to deal with existential threat from North Korea, it is the existential threat for the national football program. It has utterly held back the ambitions of the S Korean national program and handcuffed it in the process. The program has potential to break through on the next level internationally – but not while the status quo exists – not while the conversation to balance national security issue and advancing the national football program is considered taboo amongst some quarters of Korean society. Lee Keun-ho is just one epic example – the winner of the Asian Player of the Year award (along with Shinji Kagawa)  —to see him languish in the Army football team in the 2nd tier of K-League – it’s just emblematic of the illogic of the situation.  How does that serve in the better interests of Korea as a country – to see Lee in that predicament?  Imagine if Argentina had military conscription – suddenly Messi or Higuain was pulled to serve 2 years ‘on loan’ to a 2nd tier army team. There would be riots in the streets -that’s what.  Son Heung-Min, the youth in Barcelona’s La Masia academy, all these youngsters do not have exemption – that problem is looming. I have a article (been promising for months – but for real it will be posted soon) to address this fully – sneak preview: Ryu Seung-Woo rejecting a transfer to Borussia Dortmund I believe is very much tied in to the problems of conscription. For the nat’l security/nat’l football subject: Can there be a real solution? Stay tuned).

From Joon Kim:

What do you guys think about park chu young?
To be honest I still reckon he is the only one capable of scoring goals, yes, he wasn’t in favour in Spain, but to be honest who would be when they can’t even speak the language or even English for that matter.
We all saw that at AS MONACO when he was playing he could dominate and play really well, so what do you guys think about having a punt and putting him
back on the NT(where he scored a shitload of goals too)

Jae: I think we’ve used quite a few inches here at the Tavern discussing Park Chu-Young. Honestly, while his inability to speak Spanish and communicate with the staff and his teammates were a problem, his failure in Spain is down largely to other problems. Plenty of other players have arrived in La Liga who could not speak Spanish and succeeded. Watching Park play, I saw a player that was a shadow of the player who had done so well at Monaco. He was unable to link up with his teammates, lacked confidence in front of goal, and was a step slow in his movements off the ball.

At 28, next summer is really it for Park. He would be almost 33 when the 2018 World Cup rolls around, and likely out of the picture for the national team. So, he really needs to get his game in shape quickly. I think the best thing for him would be to join a smaller team (maybe in the Championship, back in France, or possibly Germany) where he can play every week, and regain some form and confidence. If he can do that, then I don’t see why he shouldn’t be in the side. It may be worth having him in the squad as a back-up regardless.


I don’t believe language barrier was the main reason for why PJY didn’t succeed at CV. (not completed)


I can’t be certain, but my hip-shot observation is that Park still got it – but I think he’s got a psychological profile that, if his confidence is shaken, it can leave him in a huge lurch negatively affecting performance. Between the ridiculous controversy that dogged him about ‘draft dodging’ and Wenger throwing him under the bus in the ’11-’12 season, it’s psyched him out. I think when he had a window at Celta Vigo to reboot his career, those negative thoughts bouncing around in his psyche – it was like he took himself out of the game. What could have been if he had not escaped that medical at Lille?  Nevertheless, if you look at what he did in last year’s Olympics, that goal in which he dodged what looked like 4 Japanese players to score that pivotal Bronze medal game winner, Hong knew what he was capable of when others had written Park off. I suspect Hong will consider Park -but we’re all waiting further hints from the boss. At this point, I don’t want to come off as a Park Chu Young apologist. If he is given another shot in Europe- possibly with a Bundesliga club -there is potential for him to be the player we knew when he was clicking on all cylinders for AS Monaco – but from a mental health POV, he’s got to get his mojo back and regain confidence in himself and his abilities.

From David:

Can son become a real force for our attack? Or do u just think he will be a wide supporter?

Jae: I think Son can become a real force, but it’ll take a little bit of an adjustment for the team and coach. If the expectation is that Son will be “just another piece of the team” than I think he’ll always be a player who has unfulfilled promise. For Son to really succeed, I think he really needs to become the focal point of the attack, and that he is given special licenses to be a dangerous player (drifting around the pitch, not tracking back). If Hong continues to use him the way other coaches have used him, I don’t see him ever being as dangerous for Korea as he is for his club team.

Roy: Hong, as you know has been experimenting with domestic and J-Leaguers. When the chance arrives, Hong may tinker some more -perhaps trying Son alternating wide and as a direct forward. Hong is over in Europe right now, talking over with Son and other KPA’s his thoughts about the roles/strategies.  I don’t have any doubt that Son will be a force to reckon with in the national team offensively. Hong will know how to work with Son’s best potential. Not to compare Son with Messi, but the Argentinian had been viewed as not terribly effective early on with his stint in the national team. He did not score a single goal in the 2010 World Cup. But in this cycle of WCQ’s he’s been killing it.

From Cheesy:

Yoon Bit-Garam is a really talented midfielder. Under Cho Kwang Rae he seemed to be a rather important player but has practically diasppeared from the NT ever since. How do you see his future (move to Europe?) and any chance for him to return to the national team?

Jae: Yoon Bitgaram is an interesting case, and one that I wrote a bit about in the first part of the “Fallen Stars” series. Initially he was tipped to be an important player under Cho, but he started to fade away about halfway through, as others, particularly Koo Ja-Cheol, emerged. By the end of Cho’s reign, Yoon was largely a substitute, and even then somewhere in the middle of the pack. Yoon also failed to really make an impression on Hong Myeong-Bo (while he was the U23 coach) as Hong opted not to take Yoon to the Olympics. There were rumors of a move to Europe, but they never came through and instead he landed in Jeju. A future move seems possible since he seems to be doing better in Jeju than he did in Seongnam. I don’t see him returning to the national team anytime in the near future as we’re already quite loaded with central midfielders. In the future? Maybe. But Yoon will need to really start impressing at the club level.

Jinseok: He was once touted as Korea’s next Euro star but right now it’s really not going to happen. Although he’s playing decent atm I don’t think he’s gonna be called up anytime soon.

Roy: To be honest, I haven’t seen Yoon in action since 2012 – the World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan. He didn’t do much that game, unlike his super sub role in the 2011 Asian Cup. He’s not on my radar – we’ll see if he can make some noise for his K-League club in the future.

From Taekeuchi: What exactly is so special about Ki? He can’t defend and isn’t much of a threat offensively. He’s a spectator who back passes to the centre backs or side passes to the full backs 90 percent of the time.

Jae: Ki actually could be more of a threat if he was allowed more offensive freedom. Under Choi Kang-Hee and Cho Kwang-Rae, Ki has generally been under direction to play a more restricted role. The closest example I can think of is some similarity to Sergio Busquets. His job seems to be to simply recycle the play, which results in a lot of sideways and back passes. At his best he can be a more Xavi/Xabi-esque player. Someone capable of playing long, diagonal passes from deep (something I think we’ll see a lot more of under Hong) and short, penetrating passes. Figuring out how to effectively get the most from our talented midfield will be a key thing for Hong over the next several months.


Hi takeuchi. Ki is supposed to be the playmaker of the team. Unfortunately with CKH / CKR his role was to shield the back four and not get forward as often; under HMB’s Olympic side however he was more useful as a playmaker as he was given more freedom to do what he wants and orchestrate play. But these days I’m getting doubts too. He hasn’t been in best of form, Koo actually performs surprisingly well in a box to box CM role, and maybe a KJC – LMJ CM + KBK CAM midfield trio in the 4-2-3-1 might work better. We’ll see what HMB works out, but he will most likely stick to KBK LAM / KJC CAM / KSY CM, unless he starts to feel the same sense of doubt we are feeling. A lot will depend on next season and how well our players perform then.


If you look at the League Cup quarterfinals last season, especially against Chelsea, Ki was vital to the Swans offense. He was finding space deep in Chelsea’s territory and set up some crucial assists – I know they aren’t as sexy as goals, but someone’s got to do it. Ki, while largely holding in deeper positions, has advanced to add to the element of surprise  -and provided trouble to the opposition when he has done so. His vision in distributing is vital to the Swans’ success last year – and while his forward passes might have been less than Leon Brittons’ (a mathematical breakdown compared/contrasted Ki vs Britton’s passes going forward – at least last year, Britton had a few percentage points more) – his long forward passes have been absolutely brilliant.  But it’s his height – it just tempts Ladrup to utilize that for central mid defensive purposes. No wonder than that Ki was the surprise center back for the League Cup final. But defending, it’s ok, but not his forte. Nevertheless, his height and mass body stock still makes up for whatever micro skills he might be still working on in defense.

From KIMG: Do any of you actually follow K League closely?

Jae: Not as much as I’d like to. Admittedly my following of the K League is a bit sporadic. When the season kicked off I followed it quite a bit, watching at least a couple games every weekend. But as time went on (and commitments built up) I haven’t been able to maintain that level of following. Generally nowadays I just have time to watch one game, and due to my hometown bias that’s Busan IPark. I’ll watch the highlights and check the results, but generally don’t have much more time to do anything other than that.

Jinseok: Very occasionally, if I feel like staying up at 1-3 AM to watch a game, I will watch myself. But every week I do check lineups, scores, standings, etc. via the K League website and follow actual K League followers via BigSoccer. So I don’t follow it very closely but I do keep up.

Roy: Sort of, but not as much as I’d like. I try keep up via K-Talk’s blog, other blogs and other forums. When I had the South Korean language channel pack from Dish TV, I was able to tune into One World Sport’s one K-League game per weekend – watching it on DVR as those Sunday games are so bloody early. I discontinued that programming due to a high monthly price. I’m hoping that K-League games can be streamed more easily here in the US – but they would need to improve on the visual presentation of the games – what I saw on One World Sports was really drab.  But this is of importance — if Korean football were to improve on the domestic end – their television ratings – in Korea and possibly elsewhere around the world needs to improve. That increased revenue could: 1. translate to better attendance at Kleague games 2.more youth interested in playing  3. be reinvested into the national program in multiple ways.  4. increased attention to Korean k-league players from international scouts

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


  1. Any update on our boys in Barcelona academy? When do you think they will make some type of impact on the junior and senior national teams? Are their any other promising young Koreans in European academies? We desperately need some goal scorers. Thanks for your time.

    • Jinseok may have more info on this, but to the best of my knowledge, Lee Seung-Woo and the rest of the Barca academy youths are still in limbo with FIFA – Barca is still in the process of appeal – but the good news is they have been playing in some international tournaments representing Barcelona -some kind of FIFA loophole that allows this despite their ruling in the spring. Also, it seems Barca -perhaps for good reason – are keen on keeping them and not sending them back to Korea. If/when we know more – we’ll update on the Tavern ASAP. They do represent some of Korea’s best hopes – especially for the 2018 WC — and if they do join Barca’s first team as impact players – holy mother of God -that would just knock my socks off…

  2. I will call it right now and i hope one of tavern writers save this so they can use it when 2014 WC comes around.

    No matter what group korea is placed in, they will go to elimination round
    they advance to ro16, they win
    they advance to ro8 and they lose in penalty shootout.

    Some of u guys may laugh but remember this

    They get knocked out of group stage.
    They get placed in the gorup of death

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