Weekend Recap / Korea wins E1 with 4:1 victory over Japan + Park Joo-Ho Transfers to Ulsan

That’s still the headlines dominating, Korea’s emphatic E1 (EAFF) Tournament win against Japan in Tokyo on Saturday. John Duerden called it Korea’s biggest win over Japan in 38 years. Here’s Tim Lee helming the Tavern Twitter on Saturday:

7 years. Lucky number in retrospect. If you haven’t looked at the Tavern’s Player Ratings, come on over here


Keep in mind, Tim Lee had been up for over 24 hours to cover this match live on Tavern Twitter – Super good job 잘 했어! 

Glass half empty: with both squads comprised of domestic / Asia based players and the Blue Samurai missing players from Urawa Reds (managed to snag 5th place in the Club World Cup) you might consider it a symbolic victory but (segue to glass half full) it reinforces some trends that suggest Japan is somewhat struggling while Korea is getting themselves back in a positive trajectory. That doesn’t take away the fact that playing a title match in Tokyo is no walk in the park. I’ll go out on a limb to suggest that the result is no fluke, Shin Tae-Yong’s learning curve is getting a steep assist forward with the addition of 2 Spanish coaches, and despite some still very visible defensive concerns, the team is indeed making strides to strengthen the narrative that they could surprise many in Russia this summer.

But we’ll return shortly with the recap, there’s club football to take a quick look back at. Some big matches involving Koreans in European top flight, let’s get to it:

Lee Chung-Yong made the 18 man roster again for Crystal Palace, but again didn’t get time on the pitch in Palace’s surprising 0:3 win at Leicester. Unless he is able to get playing time soon, he’s either stuck in football purgatory hell unless he can exit the club, bets are on for the Blue Dragon to look to Bolton perhaps as an avenue out.

Son Heung-Min got the start for Spurs in the big match of the weekend, but at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola’s side showed why they are Europe’s hottest team at the moment. Son and Spurs weren’t able to break out of City’s tight grip. Son did manage a counter or two, got a shot at goal, but like the rest of the squad, couldn’t get many touches on the ball. Peripheral might be the best way to describe Son’s 77 minutes. 4:1 loss puts the brakes on a good run of form for Spurs and pretty much means City are unstoppable and on their way to the title. Spurs at this point are looking to concentrate on the Champions League and regaining top 4 status. (Poch can’t wait to get Alderweireld and Wanyama healthy and back to bolster the squad). Good news awaits Son however with this news from the KFA:


more on Sonny’s award later…

Ji Dong-Won back in the 18 for Augsburg but didn’t see any playing time in a 3:3 draw with Freiburg.

Koo Ja-Cheol out sick and not in the 18 for Augsburg

Suk Hyun-Jun scored for Troyes but VAR stepped in and then this:

followed by this:

VAR implementation has been really vexing. Nevertheless Suk and Troyes still defeat Amiens 1:0 and move into 14th place in Ligue 1.

Kwon Chang-Hoon: played 61 minutes, Dijon chalks up another 3 points with a 3:0 win against Lille. Dijon moves into the top half of the table, sliding into 9th place.  Before the match, this happened:

Kwon has been in great form, scoring in 3 consecutive matches towards the end of November. He has 5 goals this season for Dijon.


Lee Seung-Woo was on the bench but couldn’t join in the fun as Hellas Verona upset AC Milan 3:0.

Ki Sung-Yeung out with a minor hamstring injury, Swansea would go on to lose at Everton’s Goodison Park 3:1 on Monday evening.

In the Austria Bundesliga,Red Bull Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-Chan came in at the hour mark for Minamo, the match ends in a scoreless draw with LASK Linz last Saturday, while Lee Jin-Hyun was unused sub for Austria Wein’s 1-0 win Sturm Graz.

German 2.Bundesliga, this happened on Monday:

Park Yi-Young played 90 minutes in the win over Bochum. German football nows goes into winter hibernation, good timing for both Park and Choi, first start of season for Park, first appearances in the 1st team this season.



Meanwhile in Seoul, the KFA awarded Son Heung-Min his 3rd KFA Player of the Year Award. He’s tied with Ki Sung-Yeung for the top awards honor.

Excerpt from the news release:

Son wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony at Some Sevit in Seoul since the Spurs are still in the middle of the season, but sent a video message to thank voters for his award.

“I think this award is given to me to make me work even harder,” he said. “I will work hard for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and will try to give hope to South Korea. Although I still need to improve, I’ll give my best.”

Lee Min-a (pictured above in the Twitter post) was named the top female player of the year. This is the first time that she has won the top honor.

For this year, she collected 14 goals and 10 assists in 28 matches to help her club Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels to win the WK League title.

The 26-year-old midfielder, who has six goals in 38 caps, also helped South Korea qualify for the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup. The Taeguk Ladies finished atop the qualifying campaign in Pyongyang in April over North Korea, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong and India.

“I want to thank all the coaches who’ve taught me,” she said. “I think we need to play better in order to improve South Korean women’s football. I will work hard to help that.”

Ulsan Hyundai High School forward Oh Se-hun, who also plays for the South Korean under-18 national team, won the men’s young player of the year award, while Hyundai Chungun Middle School defender Lee Su-in, 16, took the women’s young player of the year honors.”

-Joo Kyung-Don / Yonhap


TRANSFER NEWS: there were a number of interesting transfers happening last week, but the big one we were anticipating was confirmed on Sunday …with a plot twist. Borrusia Dortmund’s Park Joo-Ho looked a favored candidate to become Suwon Bluewing’s newest signing (with Jonathan rumored for a big money move to China).  Then this surprise:

and the jersey publicity shot followed on Monday to make it really official

Mixed emotions. Park was a valuable player for Swizerland’s perennial Champions League candidate FC Basel, he followed that act with a successful move to Mainz and making immediate impact for his German club. Park was granted a risky time off from his club schedule by taking part in the Asian Games – a move that paid off when the hybrid Korea squad won gold and with it, military exemption. When his manager Thomas Tuchel made the leap to become Borussia Dortmund’s high profile skipper, he brought Park Joo-Ho along for the adventure. Park scored in what I believe is his first BVB appearance in the Europa League; in hindsight, the BVB move turned out to be a disaster for his career. Park was gradually left out of Tuchel’s plans. Furthering his falling off BVB’s radar was Tuchel’s untimely sacking. From then on, Park’s position on the bench deteriorated and he was left out to dry in BVBII.  Park tried to stay in Germany but without having played competitively (outside of reserve matches) in approximately 2 seasons, Park was left with little to no offers. Having missed out on World Cup 2014 with an injury, the move back to Korea might be Park’s last chance to return to form and be an alternate left back or even left wingback option for Shin Tae-Yong’s squad before they board the plane to Russia.


Korea wraps up E1 Tournament by securing consecutive titles and beating Japan in Tokyo

Close to 40,000 were in attendance and the historically charged atmosphere surrounding any haniljeon was amplified by the title implications. It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, the scoreline didn’t reflect how close Japan was to keeping this match more even with Korea’s defensive line, led by Jang Hyun-Su losing their shape when Japan was able to work the ball into the final third. They have Daegu’s keeper Cho Hyun-Woo to thank for keeping them in the game when Jang carelessly awarded Japan the first goal with a penalty – in the first minute!  Cho was so ballsy, he nearly swatted away Kobayashi’s PK having guessed correctly diving to his right. His confidence radiated outward to his defenders, enough to prevent further damage.

It’s the tactics, especially the 4-4-2 formation (is this Shin Tae-Yong following the advice of his new Spanish coaching assistants?) that favored the Taegeuk Warriors in Tokyo. It clogged up the middle, and Japan seemed lost at times in finding their way through the Korean gauntlet. In constrast, Korea’s offensive fluidity, thanks to the onslaught of Kim Jin-Su on the left and Lee Jae-Sung through the middle and left channels (and later Kim Min-Woo growing into the match with runs on the left) broke through Japan’s ranks on more than a few occasions and left Japan scrambling to cover the towering figure of the Wookie (Kim Shin-Wook) and the craftier-than-usual Lee Guen-Ho. The latter of the two has remarkably improved his touch, and even more remarkably, has found his footing with some creativity that he’s lacked in recent KNT appearances.

But to sum up the match, after conceding early, Korea clamped down, found their composure, and worked the ball into Japanese territory with pirating swagger. After a few good scoring chances, it was only a matter of time before Korea earned the equalizer with a nifty Kim Jin-Su cross to the head of the Wookie. He staggered backwards to track the cross, but it had enough Jin-Su zing for Kim to complete the zang into the corner of the net. The goalkeeper Nakamura could only watch helplessly. But Korean dominance in the half wasn’t over, 10 minutes later a freekick by Jung Woo-Young made for immediate twitter heads to turn:


Look at the ball move indeed, Jung Woo-Young usually makes it in the Tavern for reprimanding for poor football in a KNT uniform, but not so on Saturday. Brilliant freekick, what else has Jung been hiding in his locker?

And more Korean dominance, Lee Jae-Sung terrorizing the Blue Samurai defense with a mazy run through the area, he attracted so much attention that they forgot about the Wookie lurking on the left. It was almost too easy as Kim Shin-Wook doubled his personal tally by scoring with his feet! On the tele, Nakamura was sandwiched between the graphics showing the 3 to Japan’s 1 scoreline, looking furious to his left and to his right of the numbers.

Japan, for their part managed to hem Korea into their own half after the restart, but Korea, going with a 5-3-2 bunkering formation weathered the storms and proceeded to counter back dangerously. After a handball gave Korea the freekick in the 69th minute, Suwon’s Yeom Ki-Hun, just entering the game for Lee Keun-Ho delivered the final blow, a low hard strike to the near post that caught Kobayashi, guarding the near post by surprise. He was late in reacting, and his feet parried the ball past Nakamura’s shoulder and on into the net. 4:1 and Korea’s already loud and boisterously singing crowd burst into volume 11.

Game over – and still Cho Hyun-Woo wasn’t done making deft saves, knocking away a dangerous header as the match approached full time.


Tavern agrees with the Lee Jae-Sung MVP and Cho-Hyun-Woo a best keeper, but Jang Hyun-Soo best defender?

Japan’s manager Vahid Halilhodžić post match comments: “They were better than us in every aspect of the game – one v one, power, speed and skills…we were missing our 11 regular players in this tournament, but even with our full strength squad, I think it would’ve been still difficult to win [vs Korea].”

Korea’s National Team goes into the end of the year on a good note, though it’s nowhere near satisfactory. While they have some hard won momentum, a friendly victory over Colombia and a draw with Serbia, the E1 experimental squad saw their defensive liabilities front and center, illustrated with a blown 2:1 lead over China in the first match (FT ended 2-2). The 1-0 win over North Korea was thanks to a Ri Yong-Chol owngoal, otherwise an unconvincing performance despite the result. The final title match was more defining, though ultimately inconclusive given the parameters of the squad composition. Nevertheless, it was an emphatic win, surprising given that Japan was hosting that caps 3 wins in 5 matches, with Korea undefeated since October’s 3:1 beatdown from Morocco. That Korea is finding ways to score is perhaps the biggest takeaway that paves over the defensive letdowns and gives an indication of a turnaround underway in the Shin Tae-Yong era.


Meanwhile, on the Women’s side of the E1 tournament, Japan faced North Korea in the finals. The outcome? North Korea won the women’s E1 trophy with a 0:2 victory (Kim Yun-Mi and Ri Hyang-Sim goals).


A Korean double (sort of).  South Korean women didn’t have a spectacular tournament, losing to Japan 3:2, a loss to North Korea 1:0 and bowing out to China 1:3. While the first 2 games were close, the defense was particularly exposed in the round robin. South Korean goals were scored by Cho So-Hyun (converted PK), Han Chae-Rin, both in the Japan match and Kang Yu-Mi scored Korea’s lone goal against China.

Rewind a bit, this remarkably touching moment happened in the very first E1 match :


Extra Time: Ji So-Yun and Chelsea won their quarterfinal match and await the semifinals of the Continental Cup.

About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
The old Tavern Owner


  1. I really wish Lee Chung-Yong would see the example of the success Kim Jinsu and hopefully Park Jooho have had since returning to the K League and decide to finish his career back home in Korea. He would be an asset to any team down the right flank and could certainly find his way back into Shin’s plans as a late veteran sub if he plays well. Stepping down to Bolton, a team mired at the bottom of the Championship table, wouldn’t guarantee he can get into the WC squad.

    • I think Chungy will eventually return to Asia. But given that he’s a fairly expensive player, I don’t think the K League has its say – he’ll maybe move to Bolton this window and then go to CSL. That’s my cynical bet.

      • I hope that this isn’t what happens. Can’t imagine that even if Lee moved to CSL he would get much playing time. The Koreans that play the most in China are usually defenders since the expensive foreigners are usually MF or FWs. Chungy is a humble guy, hope he’ll take the pay cut and move back to Korea.

  2. Great recap of a really busy week, Roy!
    I wish that one day, if/when unification happens, we’ll be able to sing Arirang as a new Korean national anthem. I sound like a lunatic idealist just by saying it lol

    • Don’t the North Korean players know their government is lying to them when they leave their country only to find love and support from their so called enemies rather than hate?

      • So I was super involved with North Korean human rights activism in college and it seems that most of the younger generation is very well aware of the deception of the government – it’s just that it’s hard to do anything about it. The black market for foreign media and information is booming more than ever now though and multiple organziations are smuggling things into NK – it seems the black market has gotten out of hand to the point where the governemnt is powerless to stop its spread.

  3. Can’t help but feel like Park JH got Park CY’ed at Dortmund. A real shame that he was left there to languish for a couple years. Hopefully he is able to find his form to start 2018. He would be able to bring a real veteran presence to the World Cup side if he were selected for Russia. Not exactly sure what the right course of action is for Lee CY in January…

    • I think PJH really needs to get his fitness up and then maybe he’ll get a look with March. There’s a place for the taking, in truth I haven’t been totally convinced by Kim Min-woo, just feels like generic Korean wingback/winger. KJS probably still favorite. Pity PJH can’t play RB.

      LCY… I don’t much know. But someplace other than Palace, probably.

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