Asia - World Cup Qualifying 06/11 11:00 6 [1] South Korea v China PR [2] W 1-0
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 06/06 12:00 5 [4] Singapore v South Korea [1] W 0-7
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 03/26 12:30 4 [2] Thailand v South Korea [1] W 0-3
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 03/21 11:00 3 [1] South Korea v Thailand [2] D 1-1
AFC Asian Cup 02/06 15:00 2 [3] Jordan v South Korea [2] L 2-0
AFC Asian Cup 02/02 15:30 3 [1] Australia v South Korea [2] W 1-2
AFC Asian Cup 01/30 16:00 4 [1] Saudi Arabia v South Korea [2] W 3-5
AFC Asian Cup 01/25 11:30 3 [2] South Korea v Malaysia [4] D 3-3
AFC Asian Cup 01/20 11:30 2 [1] Jordan v South Korea [2] D 2-2
AFC Asian Cup 01/15 11:30 1 South Korea v Bahrain W 3-1
International Match 01/06 13:00 - Iraq v South Korea W 0-1
Asia - World Cup Qualifying 11/21 12:00 2 [2] China PR v South Korea [1] W 0-3


Matches played 17 7 10
Wins 10 5 5
Draws 6 2 4
Losses 1 0 1
Goals for 42 23 19
Goals against 11 5 6
Clean sheets 10 4 6
Failed to score 2 0 2

The South Korea national football team (Korean: 대한민국 축구 국가대표팀; recognized as Korea Republic by FIFA) represents South Korea in men's international football and is governed by the Korea Football Association. South Korea has emerged as a major football power in Asia since the 1980s, having participated in ten consecutive and eleven overall FIFA World Cup tournaments, the most for any Asian country. Despite initially going through five World Cup tournaments without winning a match, South Korea became the first (and so far only) Asian team to reach the semi-finals when they co-hosted the 2002 tournament with Japan. South Korea also won two AFC Asian Cup titles, and finished as runners-up on four occasions. Furthermore, the team won three gold medals and three silver medals at the senior Asian Games.

The team is commonly nicknamed the "Reds" by both fans and the media due to the color of their primary kit. The national team's supporting group is officially referred to as the Red Devils.


Early history

Korea (Joseon) was not introduced to the sport of association football until the late 19th century; it is often said that football in Korea dates to 1882, when the Royal Navy sailors from HMS played a game while their vessel was visiting the Incheon Port. Korea became a Japanese colony in 1905 and was annexed into it outright in 1910.

In 1921, the first All Joseon Football Tournament was held, and in 1928, the Joseon Football Association was organized, which created a foundation to disseminate and develop football in Korea. Korean teams participated in competitions with Japanese teams from around 1926; Joseon Football Club became a de facto national team for Koreans, and won the 1935 Emperor's Cup. Koreans also played for the Japan national team, most notably Kim Yong-sik who played for Japan at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

The Joseon FA was reorganized in 1945 as Japanese occupation ended with the end of World War II. Following the establishment of the South Korean state in the late 1940s, a new Korea Football Association (KFA) was founded in 1948 and joined FIFA, the international football governing body. The same year, the South Korean national team made its international debut and won 5–3 against Mexico at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

First World Cup team (1954)

The South Korean team with the country's president Syngman Rhee after winning the 1956 AFC Asian Cup

In 1954, South Korea entered FIFA World Cup qualification for the first time, and qualified for the 1954 FIFA World Cup by beating Japan 7–3 on aggregate. South Korea were only the second Asian team to compete at a World Cup after the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), and the first fully-independent Asian nation to do so. South Korea lost their only two games by heavy margins: 9–0 against Hungary (the joint-heaviest defeat in World Cup history) and 7–0 against Turkey. Their third scheduled game, against West Germany, was never played because neither were seeded in their group, as per that tournament's rules. It would take thirty-two years before South Korea was able to participate at the World Cup finals again.

Despite this poor performance, South Korea successfully rallied by winning the inaugural AFC Asian Cup in 1956. They hosted the next edition in 1960 and successfully retained the title, beating South Vietnam, Israel, and Republic of China in the process. However, the South Korean players received fake medals, instead of the gold medals they had been promised, and returned them to the KFA. The KFA promised to give them real medals, but this did not occur until 2019. South Korea have not won the AFC Asian Cup since 1960, something that has thus been attributed to the "curse of the fake gold medals."

Foundation of Yangzee (1967)

In 1965, the South Korean government was hesitant to play football matches against North Korea and thus withdrew from the 1966 FIFA World Cup qualification to avoid possibly playing the northern neighbors. Kim Yong-sik, the KFA vice-president at that time, had evaluated North Korea as a world class team. This would be proven true, as the North Koreans advanced to the quarter-finals at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. In March 1967, the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) founded Yangzee FC, collecting famous footballers in South Korea to train them intensively. Yangzee players received benefits like exemption from military service, long-term overseas training and high salaries in return for intensive training. At the 1968 Summer Olympics qualification, South Korea was eliminated by goal difference although their points were tied with Japan, the group winners. They also participated in the 1969 Asian Club Championship, finishing as runners-up. However, South Korea failed to qualify for the 1970 FIFA World Cup despite governmental support, and Yangzee was losing support as Kim Hyong-uk, the director of KCIA and supporter of the club, was dismissed from his post, and tensions between South and North Korea were beginning to subside. Yangzee was eventually dissolved in March 1970 without ever having played against North Korea, but players achieved a good result by winning the 1970 Asian Games.

Second World Cup team (1986)

In 1986, South Korea won the East Asian tournament of the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification including two victories against Japan in the final round, and was able to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1954. After one of the greatest forwards of German Bundesliga at that time, Cha Bum-kun, joined the existing winning team, the South Korean squad for the 1986 FIFA World Cup was evaluated as the golden generation in their country. South Korea lost 3–1 to the eventual champion Argentina but Park Chang-sun scored the first South Korean goal of the World Cup in the first group match. They drew 1–1 with Bulgaria and faced the defending champion Italy in the crucial last match. They conceded Alessandro Altobelli's opening goal, but Choi Soon-ho scored the equalizer outside the penalty area. However, Altobelli's second goal was followed by Cho Kwang-rae's fatal own goal, and South Korea lost 3–2 in the match although Huh Jung-moo pulled one back. Afterwards, South Korean newscasts and journalists criticized the referee David Socha, claiming that his judgements about situations of the game were poor including the decision to award a penalty to Italy. South Korea redeemed their failure of World Cup success with a gold at the 1986 Asian Games.

Tragedy of Marseille (1998)

In 1997, Cha Bum-kun became the head coach going into the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification. South Korea consecutively won four early qualifiers against Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, and quickly solidified their position as first place of the group. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, they lost their first match against Mexico 3–1. Ha Seok-ju scored a deflected free kick for the opening goal, but was then sent off only three minutes after for an ill-advised tackle. South Korea was then thoroughly outclassed by the Netherlands, managed by Guus Hiddink, losing 5–0 in Marseille. Cha was sacked in the middle of the group stage after the loss to the Netherlands. The only South Korean player to be praised from the match was the goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji, who conceded five of the Netherlands' 17 shots on target. The team then managed a 1–1 draw against Belgium.

Hiddink's magic (2002)

Seoul Plaza during the 2002 World Cup

On 18 December 2000, the KFA named Dutch coach Guus Hiddink as the manager of the team for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted in South Korea. The KFA promised him to ensure long-term training camps and authority about management of coaching staff. At the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, they lost 5–0 against France, the eventual champions, and failed to advance to the semi-finals although defeating Australia and Mexico. South Korean journalists criticized Hiddink and gave him a nickname "Oh-dae-ppang", which means five to nothing in Korean, when South Korea lost 5–0 again in the friendly match against Czech Republic after the Confederations Cup. At the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup, South Korea finished in fourth place with two draws and three losses without a win. However, they showed their improvement in friendly matches against European teams just before the World Cup, finishing the preparation for the tournament successfully.

South Korea co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup tournament with Japan. They had never won a game in the World Cup previously but the South Korean team achieved their first ever victory in a World Cup with a 2–0 victory against Poland when the tournament began. Their next game was against the United States and earned a 1–1 draw, with striker Ahn Jung-hwan scoring a late game equalizer. Their last game was against the favored Portuguese side. Portugal earned two red cards in the match, reducing them to nine men and Park Ji-sung scored the winning goal in a 1–0 victory, allowing the South Korean team to qualify for the second round for the first time in their history. The team's success led to widespread euphoria from the South Korean public, with many people joining the Red Devils, which gained widespread attention with their passionate support of the team.

South Korea's second round opponents were Italy, who they defeated 2–1. The South Korean team was awarded an early penalty but Ahn Jung-hwan's effort was saved by Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon. Christian Vieri then scored to put Italy ahead but Seol Ki-hyeon scored an equalizer in the 88th minute, allowing the game to go through to extra time. Francesco Totti was controversially sent off for an alleged dive and Ahn redeemed his missed penalty by scoring the winner with a headed golden goal, allowing them to advance to the quarter-final. South Korea faced Spain in the quarter-finals. Spain managed to score twice in this match, but both goals were disallowed by the referees. The game then went to the penalty shoot-out where South Korea won 5–3, thus becoming the first Asian team to reach the final four. The South Korean team's run was halted by a 1–0 loss to Germany in the semi-finals. They lost to Turkey 3–2 in the third-place match and finished the tournament in fourth place.

Team captain Hong Myung-bo received the Bronze Ball as the World Cup's third best player, the first Asian footballer to be awarded this. In addition Hong was selected for the team of tournament alongside teammate Yoo Sang-chul, the first and only time Asian footballers have been named. This level of success was unprecedented for a country that had never before won a game in the World Cup. They had gone further than any Asian team and upset several established European teams in the process, leading to an increase in the popularity of football in the country. Hiddink became a national hero in South Korea, becoming the first person to be granted honorary citizenship as well as being given a private villa.[]

Captain Park era (2008)

South Korea playing against Argentina at the FIFA World Cup, in June 2010.

In 2008, South Korea chose Huh Jung-moo as their manager, and Park Ji-sung as the next captain. Under Huh, the South Korean team was undefeated for 27 consecutive games in 2009. At the fourth round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification, they recorded four wins and four draws without a loss against North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Park Ji-sung, Park Chu-young, Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yueng were in charge of South Korea's attack in the qualifiers, and were evaluated as four key players in the squad at the time.

At the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they won their first game against Greece 2–0, with goals from Lee Jung-soo and Park Ji-sung. They then faced Argentina and suffered a 4–1 defeat, including an own goal by forward Park Chu-young. They then obtained a 2–2 draw in a match against Nigeria, with Lee Jung-soo scoring in the tournament once more and Park Chu-young redeeming his own goal from the previous game by scoring from a free kick. This allowed them to make it to the second round for the first time on foreign soil. In the knockout stage they met Uruguay, who took an early lead with a goal from Luis Suárez. South Korea equalized in the second half after Lee Chung-yong scored his second goal of the tournament but South Korea conceded another goal by Suárez in the 80th minute. Despite maintaining the majority of the possession in the second half, South Korea was unable to equalize again and were eliminated from the tournament.

Proactive football (2022)

Paulo Bento was the longest-serving manager in South Korean national team history.

Kim Pan-gon, the KFA official in charge of finding a new coach, contracted Paulo Bento and his coaching team to set long-term goals after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Bento showed a philosophy that wasn't dominated by the opposition's tactics and maintained his team's build-up play. However, South Korea, an underdog in the World Cup, had been familiar with reactive tactics that focus on defense. His style received negative assessments from a significant number of KFA's executives, and he came under fire from the South Korean media. Bento severed relations with the technical committee and managed the national team with only his coaching staff after Kim Pan-gon resigned from the association. Nevertheless, the national team players were attracted to his tactics and systematic training programs, and strongly supported him.

Bento's team easily qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after scoring well against Asian teams, but the media still doubted that his proactive tactics would be effective against World Cup giants. Before the tournament, Son Heung-min, the Premier League Golden Boot winner and one of South Korea's key players, injured his eye socket and wasn't in optimal condition. At the World Cup, South Korea contested a goalless draw with Uruguay, but encountered a crisis after losing 3–2 to Ghana in the second match. Their defense failed to block all three of Ghana's shots on target, although their striker Cho Gue-sung scored two goals with headers. Bento was sent off for arguing with referee Anthony Taylor just after the match ended, and had to see South Korea's last group match against his homeland Portugal in the stands. However, South Korea defeated Portugal 2–1 with Kim Young-gwon and Hwang Hee-chan's goals, advancing to the knockout stage as group runners-up. Despite a 4–1 defeat to Brazil in the round of 16, the four-year challenge with Bento was finally appreciated by journalists and set a good direction for South Korean football.

The South Korea national soccer team, commonly known as "South Korea," is a powerhouse in Asian football. The team is managed by the Korea Football Association and has a rich history of success in international competitions.

South Korea has qualified for the FIFA World Cup multiple times and has reached the semi-finals in the AFC Asian Cup. The team is known for its fast-paced, attacking style of play and has produced some talented players who have gone on to have successful careers in top European leagues.

The team's fans are passionate and loyal, often filling stadiums with their chants and cheers. South Korea's national team is a source of pride for the country and is a symbol of unity and national identity.

Overall, South Korea is a formidable force in Asian football and continues to strive for success on the international stage.