The Tavern Mailbag Responses (April)

So, our first mailbag got a few questions in, and our readers seem to be quite concerned about the future of the NT.

Tony Kim
Q: “So far, what is your predictions for the 2014 WC?”
Roy: Just speaking as Tavern owner, this might sound too ridiculously obvious but it may come down to the group they’re drawn in. There’s talent and in some positions – raw talent, and a questionable defense that might be able to pull together (aka Summer Olympic style). Therefore, if they draw with a favorable group, I can see them advancing and gaining momentum in whatever round of 16 adventure they encounter. Group of death – judging by how haphazardly boss Choi Kang-Hee is managing things, I just don’t see how they can pull their squad to connect with each other to adequately face stiffer international competition. Now if Hong Myung-Bo were to enter the picture…it’s just a matter of how much damage to team morale before he can right they ship – could there be enough time? Hard to speculate on such a hypothetical.
Jae: I think Roy has generally hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to predict how things will shake out given that qualification isn’t over, and the draw hasn’t been held. The group we end up in will have a big say in how we do. But, this wouldn’t be a very interesting mailbag if we just ended it there. So, a little fun speculation seems to be in order.
I think Korea, barring a group of death entry, will expect to make it to the round of 16. The team has the quality to do so, and in all honesty, should do so. I don’t know if they’re ready to move beyond the round of 16, a lot will depend on the manager’s ability to blend the attacking talent, and piece together some sort of defense. Other than Korea, I think the usual favorites will be there. Spain and Germany head the list, with Argentina and Brazil being right behind. Italy and France should be outside shots. All the teams have questions now as to their title credentials. But, it should be a fun tournament.
Q: “European season reaching its end, do you think we will see new Korean transfer this summer?”
Roy: I have a hunch that yes, we will see one or two more transfers. The targets will be the kids who won military exemption last summer by winning a medal in the Olympics. Park Jong-Woo (Busan) was a candidate but didn’t transfer in January – perhaps because he was waiting on a verdict from FIFA for the Dokdo island sign controversy. That’s behind him -and in front of him – maybe a dream transfer come true. If scouts are doing their job, Moon Chang-Jin could be a future long term prospect. He really impressed in the U-19 AFC championship, helping that version of the Taeguk Warriors win that tournament – qualifying them for the U-20 World Cup. Currently he’s getting playing time for the Pohang Steelers.
Jae: Maybe a couple, but I don’t think we’ll see many new Korean faces in Europe. Korea Football News reported earlier this year that Kim Shin-Wook will move to Europe this summer. Other then him, I don’t expect to see many big moves as quite simply, there isn’t a young, exciting prospect to tempt Europe. Usually Korean players move on the heels of an international tournament. Now, there may be some move within the players already in Europe. Lee Chung-Yong will likely leave Bolton should they fail to achieve promotion. Ji Dong-Won will likely seek a move away from Sunderland. I don’t think Koo Ja-Cheol will stay at Wolfsburg either.
tuco salamanca

Q1: “Do you guys know if there’s any chance that Park Ji sung could come back from retirement to play the 2014 world cup?

Roy: It’s tempting to think he could come back to help out with the 2014 WC –but one of his reasons for retiring from international play is why I believe he will continue to stay out of the Taeguk Warriors lineup. Namely it’s his desire to help the team by freeing up his midfield position for an up and coming midfielder to get more international experience. It’s a good point – but that doesn’t stop prognosticators from wondering if he still has what it takes to make an impact should he decide to change his mind. I agree with you wholeheartedly that he could play a definite positive role if he wanted to lend a hand – but ultimately I think he still favors the idea that the Kim Bo-Kyung / Lee Keun-Ho’s of the squad getting additional experience in his absence might be more beneficial for the team in the long run.

Jae: I think the chances of Park Ji-Sung coming out of retirement are slim to none, and probably much closer to none. He was asked to consider it right before Cho Kwang-Rae was sacked, and qualification from the 3rd round was in jeopardy, and refused. I don’t think he’ll reconsider now. His presence would certainly be a boost, just in terms of the experience and leadership he can bring (in a team sorely lacking in it). I don’t think he’d be a very good wingback, but a central position could work against smaller teams. But, again, I think he’ll continue to focus on club, especially considering that QPR wants him gone, and he’ll be looking for a new team in the summer.

Q2: “What do you guys think the Korean team will look like in Qatar 2022? Do you guys know of any other up and coming Korean stars? What would be your starting 11 in about 10 years time?”

Roy: Both questions are very good ones and extremely difficult to answer adequately. And since I don’t want to eat crow later, I’d rather avoid the question BUT I will offer that as long as the Barcelona and Valencia academy kids education in Spain aren’t derailed by FIFA, those kids could in theory eclipse the current crop of European based Koreans we have now. Son Heung-Min -as long as he gets military exemption or deferment – could also still be in his footballing prime and could contribute mightily in the Taeguk Warriors WC squad 10 years into the future. and (see Moon Chang-Jin).

Jae: Wow, it’s difficult for me to imagine what the XI would look like in 2018. Honestly, I have no clue. Certainly there are some young players, particularly in Spain, but at that age it’s hard to say who’ll end up making the grade, especially considering the FIFA issues that the La Masia kids are experiencing. As we’ve seen with Park Chu-Young, a year or so without regular competitive playing time can really derail a player’s progress and ability. Granted it’s quite a bit different between a 14, 15 year old academy kid and a top flight professional, but still it can’t be good for them to miss out for an extended period. Plus it’s so hard to predict how kids adapt to the top flight from academy matches. The footballing landscape is littered with the names of promising youngsters billed as the next big thing who don’t make the cut in the end (think Bojan, Freddy Adu, Seba Giovinco, etc.). As for a prediction, I think I’ll leave that to the more capable hands of the Tavern’s resident Korean youth expert, Jinseok.

Jinseok: Youth leagues, youth player success, and predictions for the future are very hard. Because player development is SO unpredictable. You need the right combination of playing time, MANAGER (this one particularly), environment, etc.

However, it’s fun to take educated guesses, right?

Let’s see. Qatar 2022. Approximately 10 years from now

Let’s start from the back.


Jung Sung Ryong will be 38 years old, and considering the other keepers we have I doubt he’d be our starter in 2022.

Lee Bum Young – Solid option, no doubt. He will be 33 years old.

Lee Chang Geun – our u20 captain and my personal pick for the 2022 role. He was ROCK SOLID for the U19 qualification and doesn’t make mistakes. Consistency is rare in young keepers. It’s unfortunate though, that Lee and Lee Bum Young are both on the same team

Kim Ro Man – intriguing option. He’s currently 15 or 16 years old (So 25-26 in 2022). He’s a freakishly tall, Pohang youth keeper, half Russian half Korean, who stated himself his dream is to play for our national team. He’s shown incredible ability already; perhaps he can develop into a truly world class keeper. But only time will tell.


Hong Jeong Ho and Kim Young Gwon – they’ll be 33, which just happens to be the same age Hong Myung Bo was in 2002. Unless better defensive optins come up, they will certainly be called up to the squad.

Jang Hyun Soo – Will be 30. He was rock solid in the 2009 U20 WC, and unlike most of our defenders, Jang, along with HJH and KYG, weren’t strikers who failed so became defenders. Calm presence at the back, pretty fast/nimble, and showed some strong leadership ability as well. In that sense, he is very similar to HJH. It breaks my heart to remember how Jang got injured right before the Olympics, though the biggest heartbreak was definitely Olympic Captain HJH

I do not know of very many U20 / U17 CBs. I’ll be watching the U20 WC very closely, so maybe we’ll discover someone then, just like we discovered Jang Hyun Soo’s talent at the last U20


Yoon Suk Young and Oh Jae Suk – Solid showing at the Olympics. They’ll be 32 in 2022, but hey, LYP was 33, so it all depends on how they develop from now on. As of now both are in pretty depressing situations at QPR and Gamba Osaka respectively

Lee Ki Jae and Kim Jin Su – Our fullback duo in the 2009 U20 world cup. They were solid, and are getting consistent playing time at Shimizu S-Pulse and Albirex Niigata. Lee especially is being lauded as a very reliable left back.

Centre Midfield:

Paik Seung Ho – our 16 year old Barcelona midfield talent. He definitely has the potential to become our starting midfielder in 2022, given he develops properly.

Ki Sung Yong, Han Kook Young, and Park Jong Woo – We are familiar with these guys already, and will be just past their prime. Ki will be 33, and the other two will be 32. Unless Paik Seung Ho develops into a beast of a CM, expect Ki to be in the starting lineup, though he did say he is considering retiring at 30 yrs. If HKY develops into the Yoo Sang Chul-esque defensive mid we really really need.. he’ll probably be there as well, unless we have promising defensive midfielders coming through the K League.

Lee Myung Joo – will be 31 in 2022. He is performing VERY well in the K league right now, and is said to be very similar to Ki.

Attacking Midfield / Wing

Lee Kang In – I am most excited for this kid (and Lee Seung Woo) above all others, but he’s only 11 years old at the moment. The skills this guy exhibits is ridiculous, and literally walks past defenses like none other. You thought Lee Seung Woo, Jang Gyeol Hee, and the 11 year old Takefusa Kubo also at Barca were amazing? This kid will amaze you even more. He’s mastered all the “tricks” you see professional players do – turns, fake outs, roulettes – you name it, he can do it. However, he’s only 11, which makes success even more unpredictable.

Jang Gyeol Hee – another one of our Barcelona kids – starting winger for Barcelona Cadete B – extremely fast and scores quite a few goals. Doesn’t get as much attention as teammate Lee Seung Woo, but does his job very well.

Park Jung Bin – will be 28-29 in 2022, and has performed pretty well for for Greuther Furth so far. Potential winger for the future.

Nam Tae Hee – will be 29-30 in 2022. His inclusion will be affected by 1). If he can get out of the desert 2). He can finally learn to dribble with his head up or 3). He learns how to shoot.

#7, 11, and 17 on U20 team – Ryu Seung Woo, Kang Sang Woo, and Kim Seung Joon – quite promising

Lee Chung Yong, Koo Ja Cheol, and Kim Bo Kyung – Will be 31 – 33 yrs old in 2022. Again, whether they start for our 2022 WC campaign depends entirely on the development of younger players and if they become good enough to keep our current midfield stars on the bench.


Lee Seung Woo – this kid. Is literally ripping apart defenses by himself in Barcelona’s youth academy. He’s all over the news as the next Messi and is universally acknowledged as one of La Masia’s top talents. OK I’m embellishing a bit but seriously, Marca reporters out there say if there’s anyone in La Masia can rival Messi, it’s LSW. He will be 25 when 2022 comes around.

Hwang Hee Chan – Very very promising 16 year old striker who plays for the Pohang youth academy. Showed incredible potential in the U16 championship, and it’s too bad we didn’t qualify for the U17 WC.

Son Heung Min – He’ll be 29, around the peak of powers. Who knows how he’ll develop in the next ten years- we can only hope he develops into the striker we’ve always wanted

Ji Dong Won – He’ll be 30/31. Like SHM, we can only hope he turns into a world class finesse striker.


Can you guys please do a coverage on who should be Korea’s next head coach for WC Team? Especially because Choi stated that he would quit after asian qualifiers.
Jae: For me there is only one option. That is Hong Myeong-Bo. I do believe that the coach of a national team should be a national of that country when at all possible. I would make an exception though if there were no quality national coaches available or if there was a truly exceptional foreign coach available. I do not believe there are any exceptional foreign coaches on the market, and I do believe there are good national options. The best one being, Hong Myeong-Bo. Hong’s success at the Olympics with the U-23 team was enough for me to get fully on the bandwagon for his eventual appointment of the senior squad. He is a man that the players will respect, someone that I believe will be able to motivate the players, and of course, someone who can help the team be successful on the pitch. Rarely am I completely in support of one person or idea, but Hong Myeong-Bo should be the next national team manager full stop. Any one else would be another step in the wrong direction.
Roy: absolutely second that. Coach Hong would be a natural fit. His management at the summer olympics really turned a lot of heads at what he could do given the helm. It was, in fact, a revelation to say the least. While he did turn down taking over the senior squad earlier in the year, his next move last December said a tremendous amount about his future intentions for the Taeguk Warriors -namely, becoming assistant coach under Guss Hiddink over at FC Anzhi Machhachkala in Russia. Hiddink, as everyone is aware, coached the legendary 2002 Taeguk Warriors squad that went deep in the World Cup advanced rounds, beating Poland, Portugal, Italy, Spain along the way and going head to head with Germany in the semifinals, only to lose to them 1-0. The mantle symbolically passed down from Hiddink to Hong is hard to miss. Not to mention real practical knowledge he can garner from Hiddink to draw out the best possible performance from the Red Devils.
Now in case I misread Hong and he really doesn’t want the job of coaching in this next World Cup, as an alternative long shot proposition, why not a European manager – oh say, Roberto Di Matteo?  Initially a stewart caretaker manager after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked at Chelsea in the 2011-2012 season, Di Matteo was able to settle the team down and worked wonders with what many thought was a has-been lot of over paid drama inducing players. Despite finishing 5th in the Premier League, Di Matteo surprised many by deftly managing the squad past Barcelona and Bayern Munich to win the Champions League title. Of course it didn’t take long for the fickle Russian oligarch/reputed mobster Abromovich to sack RDM the following season in spite of the European championship win. Di Matteo is in search of another team to manage. Hey Di Matteo, why not the challenge, the intrigue, and the abject worship by millions to manage a squad in search of a good manager?  Someone put a bug in his ear about this.


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


  1. How am I able to submit a question to the tavern mailbag. I’ve been a huge fan odf this tavern since the Olympics. After the Olympics I was looking for a website that gave good rumours of SK transfers, but was realistic at the same time. This website checked both the boxes and more. I thoroughly enjoyed the article titled ‘The Case with Park Chu-Young’ and just wanted to ask if the tavern could do something similar for Yoon Bit-Garam (who I thought was the next park ji sung but then again we all did in 2010)

    • Hey David, thanks for the compliment, I’m sure the Tavern owner will be quite pleased to hear that. I see you found the ‘fallen stars’ piece I wrote on Yoon Bitgaram. Indeed Yoon is an interesting case considering how much promise he had following the WC, and how quickly he disappeared from the scene. He’s still young, so it’s possible he can turn things around and still be relevant for the senior squad.

      As for the mailbag, should you have any other questions, it’s a monthly thing, and the May version will be posted next week. All you need to do is leave your question in the comments section, and it’ll get picked up and distributed to the team for responses. Thanks for reading.

      • In that case a question I have for the mailbag is; If Park Ji-Sung were to move to a better club (because qpr will probably let him go) where would he go?

    • Thanks David! That was my first (and looking back, I noticed so many WordPress and grammar errors – yikes) but I did enjoy writing that, even as I agonized over his previous year of hell at Arsenal – the literal and figurative disappearances, not to mention his ‘redemption’ so to speak was so interesting, the piece just wrote itself.

  2. That is brilliant stuff Jinseok.
    Hopefully the younger boys will deliver and we’ll have the best Korean team ever in that World Cup.

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