|Nickname(s)||? (Taegeuk Warriors)|
? (Tigers of Asia)
|Association||Korea Football Association (KFA)|
|EAFF (East Asia)|
|Head coach||Paulo Bento|
|Most caps||Cha Bum-kun|
Hong Myung-bo (136)
|Top scorer||Cha Bum-kun (58)|
|Current||38 (10 December 2020)|
|Highest||17 (December 1998)|
|Lowest||69 (November 2014 - January 2015)|
| South Korea 5-3 Mexico |
(London, England; 2 August 1948)
| South Korea 16-0 Nepal |
(Incheon, South Korea; 29 September 2003)
| South Korea 0-12 Sweden |
(London, England; 5 August 1948)
|Appearances||10 (first in 1954)|
|Best result||Fourth place (2002)|
|Appearances||14 (first in 1956)|
|Best result||Champions (1956, 1960)|
|Appearances||8 (first in 2003)|
|Best result||Champions (2003, 2008, 2015, 2017, 2019)|
|Appearances||1 (first in 2001)|
|Best result||Group stage (2001)|
|South Korea national football team|
|Revised Romanization||Daehan Min'guk Chukgu Gukga Daepyo Tim|
|McCune-Reischauer||Taehan Min'guk Ch'ukku Kukka Taep'yo T'im|
The South Korea national football team (Korean: ? ; 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 developed and emerged as a major football power in Asia since the 80s and is historically the most successful Asian football team, having participated in nine consecutive and ten 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 only Asian team to reach the semi-final stages when they co-hosted the 2002 tournament with Japan. South Korea also recorded five titles and seven-time runners-up in the AFC Asian Cup and 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.
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 British sailors from HMS Flying Fish 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 on the Japanese 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.
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: 0-9 against Hungary (the joint-heaviest defeat in World Cup history) and 0-7 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 Medals."
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.
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 1-3 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 2-3 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.
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 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 1-3. 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 0-5 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.
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 0-5 against France, the eventual champions, and failed to advance to the semi-finals although defeating Australia and Mexico. South Korean journalists criticized Hiddnk and gave him a nickname "Oh-dae-ppang", which means five to nothing in Korean, when South Korea lost 0-5 again at 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, their results improved at three friendly matches prior to the World Cup against Scotland,England and France.
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 0-1 loss to Germany in the semi-finals. They lost to Turkey 2-3 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.
In 2008, South Korea chose Huh Jung-moo as their manager again, and Park Ji-sung as the next captain. Under Huh and Park, 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 United Arab Emirates.
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 large loss 1-4, 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.
For the combined qualification matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, South Korea won all seven matches without conceding a goal in the second round but following a series of poor results in the third round of qualifiers, including losses to China and Qatar, the former manager Uli Stielike was sacked and was replaced by under-23 coach Shin Tae-yong for the remainder of the qualifying round. Under Shin Tae-yong, the team managed to qualify as the second-placed team in their group following two goalless draws against Iran and Uzbekistan, sending South Korea to the World Cup for the ninth consecutive time.
At the 2018 World Cup, they lost their first game against Sweden 0-1 after conceding a penalty kick. They then faced Mexico and lost 1-2 after conceding another penalty kick. However, despite their two consecutive losses, South Korea was not eliminated just yet. To have any chance of advancing, South Korea would have to win their final group stage match against the defending champions Germany by at least two goals and Mexico would have to defeat Sweden in its last group stage game. South Korea for its part did what it had to do to stay in contention and won 2-0 against Germany with goals from Kim Young-gwon and Son Heung-min, causing them to be eliminated in the first round for the first time in 80 years. Germany had 28 shots with 6 on target, but the South Korea's defense, led by keeper Jo Hyeon-woo, did not concede once. However, Mexico lost to Sweden that same day and thus South Korea ultimately finished third in the group. As a result, South Korea saved Mexico from being eliminated and Mexican fans heavily praised the Koreans and celebrated their victory in front of the South Korean embassy. The match is also called the "Miracle of Kazan" in South Korea although they dropped out of the tournament. This is further emphasized by the fact that the victory over Germany was a turning point for a declining South Korea team, who have since been recognised as a powerhouse on the rise in Asia.
Red is the traditional shirt color of the South Korean national team, who are consequently nicknamed the "Reds", while the fans are called the "Red Devils". The away shirt has varied between white and blue. In 1994, the home shirt shifted from red to white, but in October 1995, red returned as home color, paired with black shorts.
South Korea used to wear the South Korean flag as their shirt badge until 2001, when their tiger crest was unveiled. On 5 February 2020, the KFA announced a new, more simplistic logo. The emblem retained the tiger, albeit in a more minimalist design, enclosed in a rectangular frame. Red, blue and white, South Korea's traditional colors, have been maintained in the new logo.
|Kit supplier||Period||Contract date||Contract duration||Total||Per year||Ref.|
|Nike||1996-present||1996-1997||$3 million||$1.5 million|
|1998-2002||$38 million||$7.6 million|||
|2003-2007||$50 million||$10.0 million|||
|2008-2011||$49 million||$12.3 million|||
|2012-2019||$120 million||$15.0 million|||
|2020-2031||$204 million||$17.0 million|||
The official supporter group of the national team, the Red Devils, were founded in 1995. Known for their passionate support, they are commonly referred to as the 12th man. Their most common chant is "Dae~han Minguk" (Korean: "?~"; meaning: Republic of Korea or mighty Korea), followed by five claps. The FIFA Fan Fest was introduced at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea.
The South Korea national football team played their first home match at the Dongdaemun Stadium on 21 April 1956. The match was a qualifier of the 1956 AFC Asian Cup against the Philippines. They currently play their home matches at several stadiums which K League clubs also use.
South Korea's greatest rival is Japan. This rivalry is an extension of a competitive rivalry between the two nations that goes beyond football. Some matches in the past have been tainted with controversy. South Korea leads the all-time series with 42 wins, 23 draws and 14 losses.
A rivalry has also developed with Iran. The two nations have played against each other officially since 1958, totalling 31 matches as of June 2019, including nine World Cup qualifiers. South Korea and Iran were among the strongest Asian national teams during the 1960s and 1970s. Although the teams only had one chance to play against each other in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup, in 1972, they have faced each other five consecutive times in the quarter-finals between 1996 and 2011, with each team recording two wins, two losses, and a draw. Iran leads the all-time series with 13 wins, 9 draws and 9 losses.
Another major rival is Australia, and is also one of the most followed rivalries in Asia. South Korea trails behind Australia with 8 wins, 11 draws and 9 defeats. South Korea is frequently unlucky when facing Australia in major competitions, winning only two official matches. South Korea lost to Australia in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final.
South Korea has had great success against China, with China failing to defeat them in 28 competitive matches before finally winning a game in 2010. They also possess a strong rivalry with North Korea, though matches are infrequent due to diplomatic and security reasons.
Champions Runners-up Third place Fourth place
|FIFA World Cup record||Qualification record|
|1950||Did not enter|
|1958||Preliminary competition entry denied|
|1962||Did not qualify||4||2||0||2||6||9|
|1966||Did not enter|
|1970||Did not qualify||4||1||2||1||6||5|
|2002||Fourth place||4th||7||3||2||2||8||6||Squad||Qualified as hosts|
|2010||Round of 16||15th||4||1||1||2||6||8||Squad||14||7||7||0||22||7|
|2022||To be determined||4||2||2||0||10||0|
|2026||To be determined|
|Summer Olympic Games record||Qualification record|
|1952||Did not enter|
|1956||Did not qualify||2||1||0||1||2||2|
|1968||Did not qualify||5||4||1||0||17||5|
|1988||Group stage||11th||1[b]||0||1||0||0||0||Squad||Qualified as hosts|
|1992-present||See South Korea national under-23 football team|
|AFC Asian Cup record||Qualification record|
|1960||Champions||1st||3||3||0||0||9||1||Squad||Qualified as hosts|
|1968||Did not qualify||4||1||1||2||9||4|
|1976||Did not qualify||4||2||0||2||3||3|
|1988||Runners-up||2nd||6||5||1||0||11||3||Squad||See B team|
|1992||Did not qualify||See B team|
|2011||Third place||3rd||6||4||2||0||13||7||Squad||Directly qualified|
|2023||To be determined||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Asian Games record|
|1951||Did not enter|
|2002-present||See South Korea national under-23 football team|
|EAFF Championship record|
|2000||CONCACAF Gold Cup||Group stage||9th||2||0||2||0||2||2||Squad|
|2001||FIFA Confederations Cup||Group stage||5th||3||2||0||1||3||6||Squad|
|2002||CONCACAF Gold Cup||Fourth place||4th||5||0||2||3||3||7||Squad|
The following matches include the most recent results and future fixtures.
Win Draw Loss
|Fitness coach||Pedro Pereira|
|Goalkeeping coach||Vítor Silvestre|
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Gu Sung-yun||27 June 1994||4||0||Daegu FC|
|12||GK||Lee Chang-keun||30 August 1993||1||0||Gimcheon Sangmu|
|20||DF||Kwon Kyung-won||31 January 1992||16||2||Gimcheon Sangmu|
|2||DF||Kim Tae-hwan||24 July 1989||10||0||Ulsan Hyundai|
|14||DF||Jung Seung-hyun||3 April 1994||8||0||Ulsan Hyundai|
|3||DF||Lee Ju-yong||26 September 1992||5||0||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors|
|18||DF||Won Du-jae||18 November 1997||2||0||Ulsan Hyundai|
|25||DF||Yoon Jong-gyu||20 March 1998||1||0||FC Seoul|
|26||DF||Jeong Tae-wook||16 May 1997||0||0||Daegu FC|
|10||MF||Lee Jae-sung||10 August 1992||51||8||Holstein Kiel|
|5||MF||Jung Woo-young||14 December 1989||51||3||Al-Sadd|
|8||MF||Nam Tae-hee||3 July 1991||48||6||Al-Sadd|
|23||MF||Ju Se-jong||30 October 1990||28||1||Gamba Osaka|
|13||MF||Son Jun-ho||12 May 1992||8||0||Shandong Taishan|
|7||FW||Son Heung-min (captain)||8 July 1992||89||26||Tottenham Hotspur|
|16||FW||Hwang Ui-jo||28 August 1992||34||12||Bordeaux|
|11||FW||Hwang Hee-chan||26 January 1996||34||5||RB Leipzig|
|19||FW||Lee Kang-in||19 February 2001||5||0||Valencia|
|17||FW||Um Won-sang||6 January 1999||1||0||Gwangju FC|
The following players have also been called up to the South Korea squad within the last twelve months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Jo Hyeon-woo||25 September 1991||16||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|DF||Kim Moon-hwan||1 August 1995||11||0||Los Angeles FC||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|DF||Kim Min-jae||15 November 1996||30||3||Beijing Guoan||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 WD|
|DF||Park Ji-soo||13 June 1994||3||0||Suwon FC||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 WD|
|DF||Hong Chul||17 September 1990||30||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 INJ|
|DF||Kim Jin-su||13 June 1992||46||1||Al-Nassr||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|DF||Kim Young-bin||20 September 1991||0||0||Gangwon FC||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|DF||Sim Sang-min||21 May 1993||0||0||Gimcheon Sangmu||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Kwon Chang-hoon||30 June 1994||23||5||SC Freiburg||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|MF||Hwang In-beom||20 September 1996||23||3||Rubin Kazan||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|MF||Yoon Bit-garam||7 May 1990||15||3||Ulsan Hyundai||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Kim In-sung||9 September 1989||2||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Lee Dong-gyeong||20 September 1997||2||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Lee Yeong-jae||13 September 1994||2||0||Suwon FC||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Han Seung-gyu||28 September 1996||0||0||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Lee Hyeon-sik||21 March 1996||0||0||Daejeon Hana Citizen||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|MF||Lee Chung-yong||2 July 1988||89||9||Ulsan Hyundai||v. South Korea U23, 9 October 2020 INJ|
|FW||Na Sang-ho||12 August 1996||13||2||FC Seoul||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|FW||Lee Dong-jun||1 February 1997||0||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. Mexico, 14 November 2020 COV|
|FW||Lee Jeong-hyeop||24 June 1991||24||5||Gyeongnam FC||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
|FW||Kim Ji-hyeon||22 July 1996||0||0||Ulsan Hyundai||v. South Korea U23, 12 October 2020|
INJ Withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
COV Player withdrew due to COVID-19
WD Player withdrew from the squad due to non-injury issue.
The following players were inducted into the Korean Football Hall of Fame, or were selected for the Korean Football All-time Best XI in one or more surveys.
Players in bold are regarded as some of the greatest South Korean footballers of all time.
| Asian Champions
1956 (First title)
1960 (Second title)
| Asian Games Champions
1970 (First title)
| Asian Games Champions
1978 (Second title)
| Asian Games Champions
1986 (Third title)
| Afro-Asian Cup Champions
1988 (First title)
| EAFF Champions
2003 (First title)
2005 China PR
2005 China PR
| EAFF Champions
2008 (Second title)
2010 China PR
| EAFF Champions
2015 (Third title)
2017 (Fourth title)
2019 (Fifth title)
2001 China PR
| AFC Men's Team of the Year
| AFC Men's Team of the Year