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K League (Hangul: K리그) (Korea Professional Football League) is South Korea's professional association football league including the first division K League 1 and the second division K League 2.[1][2]

K League
K League.png
Founded1983
CountrySouth Korea
ConfederationAFC
DivisionsK League 1 (First Division)
K League 2 (Second Division)
Number of teams22
Domestic cup(s)FA Cup
International cup(s)AFC Champions League
Current championsJeonbuk Hyundai Motors (K League 1)
Asan Mugunghwa (K League 2)
Most championshipsSeongnam FC (7)
WebsiteOfficial website

Contents

HistoryEdit

The K League Classic was founded in 1983 as the Korean Super League, with five member clubs. The initial five clubs were Hallelujah FC, Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, Daewoo Royals, and Kookmin Bank FC. Hallelujah FC won the inaugural title, finishing one point ahead of Daewoo Royals to lift the crown.

In 1998, Korea's football league was reformed and renamed the K League (K League was official orthography by 2012). Since its creation, the league has expanded from an initial 5 to 16 clubs. Of the five inaugural clubs, only Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, and Daewoo Royals remains in the K League; Kookmin Bank FC dropped out of the league at the end of 1984, and Hallelujah FC followed the season after.

In 2013, K League introduced the division system, splitting the league into two divisions. The first division's name was K League Classic, the second division's name was K League Challenge and the comprehensive brand name was K League. The fact that both the first and second divisions had very similar names caused some degree of confusion and controversy.[3] Beginning with the 2018 season, the first division was renamed to K League 1 and the second division to K League 2.

StructureEdit

Below the K League 1 is the K League 2, and below the K League 2 is the National League, a closed semi-professional league established in 2003. The fourth level of football in South Korea is the K3 League.

On 5 October 2011, the league announced a plan to introduce a relegation system from the 2012 season, when two teams were relegated. In 2013, the bottom two teams were directly relegated, while the 12th team played a relegation playoff match against the winner of the newly-formed K League Challenge. From the 2013 season, as the number of teams of K League was reduced, only the 12th team is automatically relegated, with the 11th team playing a match against the winner of the K League 2 promotion playoffs.

ClubsEdit

K League 1 clubsEdit

K League 2 clubsEdit

All-time K League clubsEdit

As of 2019, there have been a total of 31 member clubs in the history of the K League – those clubs are listed below with their current names (where applicable):

  • K League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history and records.
  • Clubs in italic no longer exist.
# Club (duration) Owner(s) Notes
1
POSCO FC (1973–1983)
POSCO Dolphins (1983–1984)
POSCO Atoms (1985–1994)
Pohang Atoms (1995–1996)
Pohang Steelers (1997–present)
POSCO Founded as a semi-professional club on April 1973.
Transferred into a professional club on February 1984.
2
Hallelujah FC (1983–1985) Shindongah Group Inauguration date – 20 December 1980
3
Yukong Elephants (1983–1995)
Puchon Yukong (1996–September 1997)
Puchon SK (October 1997–2000)
Bucheon SK (2001–2005)
Jeju United (2006–present)
SK Energy of the SK Group Inauguration date – 17 December 1982
4
Saehan Motors FC (1979–1980)
Daewoo FC (1980–1983)
Daewoo Royals (1983–1995)
Pusan Daewoo Royals (1996–1999)
Pusan i.cons (2000–July 2002)
Pusan I'Cons (July 2002–2004)
Busan I'Park (2005–2011)
Busan IPark (2012–present)
Daewoo Group (1983–1999)
HDC Sports of the HDC Group (2000–present)
Founded as a semi-professional club on 22 November 1979.
Re-founded as a professional club.
Inauguration date – 3 December 1983
5
Kookmin Bank FC (1983–1984) Kookmin Bank Played as a semi-professional club.
6
Hyundai Horang-i (1984–1995)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (1996–1998)
Ulsan Hyundai Horangi (1999–2007)
Ulsan Hyundai (2008–present)
Hyundai Motor Company of the Hyundai Group (1984–1997)
Hyundai Heavy Industries of the Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (1998–present)
Inauguration date – 6 December 1983
7
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso (1984–1990)
LG Cheetahs (1991–1995)
Anyang LG Cheetahs (1996–2003)
FC Seoul (2004–present)
LG Group (1984–2004)
GS Sports of the GS Group (June 2004–present)
0
0
Inauguration date – 22 December 1983
0
0
0
8
Hanil Bank FC (1984–1986) Hanil Bank Played as a semi-professional club.
9
Ilhwa Chunma (1989–1995)
Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma (1996–1999)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (2000–2013)
Seongnam FC (2014–present)
Ilhwa of the Tongil Group (1989–2013)
Government of Seongnam and Citizen Stockholder (2014–present)
Inauguration date – 18 March 1989
10
Chonbuk Buffalo (1994) Bobae Soju Inauguration date – 1993
Dissolution date – 1994
11
Chonbuk Dinos (1995–1996)
Chonbuk Hyundai Dinos (1997–1999)
Chonbuk Hyundai Motors (2000–2005)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2006–present)
Consortium of Hyunyang and Hyundai Motor Company of the Hyundai Group (1995–May 1999)
Hyundai Motor Company of the Hyundai Motor Group (May 1999–present)
Inauguration date – 12 December 1994
12
Chunnam Dragons (1995–2013)
Jeonnam Dragons (2014–present)
POSCO Inauguration date – 16 December 1994
13
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1996–present) Samsung Electronics of the Samsung Group (1996–2014)
Cheil Worldwide of the Samsung Group (2014–present)
Inauguration date – 15 December 1995
14
Taejon Citizen (1997–2002)
Daejeon Citizen (2003–present)
Consortium of the Dong Ah Group, KyeRyong Construction Company
Dongyang Department Store, Chungchong Bank (1997–2005)
Government of Daejeon and Citizen Stockholder (2006–present)
Inauguration date – 12 March 1997
15
Daegu FC (2003–present) Government of Daegu and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 19 March 2003
16
Incheon United (2004–present) Government of Incheon and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 1 March 2004
17
Gyeongnam FC (2006–present) Government of Gyeongsangnam-do and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 17 January 2006
18
Gangwon FC (2009–present) Government of Gangwon-do and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 18 December 2008
19
Gwangju FC (2011–present) Government of Gwangju and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 16 December 2010
20~22
Sangmu FC (1985)
Gwangju Sangmu (2003–2010)
Sangju Sangmu Phoenix (2011–2012)
Sangju Sangmu (2013–present)
0
0
0
Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps (1985)
Government of Gwangju and Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps (2003–2010)
Government of Sangju and Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps (2011–present)
0
0
0
0
Founded as a Military FC (semi-professional) on 11 January 1984.
Joined the K League in 1985.
Inauguration date – 4 January 2013 (Gwangju Sangmu)
Inauguration date – 26 February 2011 (Sangju Sangmu)
※ Sangmu, Gwangju Sangmu and Sangju Sangmu are separate legal entities according to the K League.
23~24
Police FC (2013)
Ansan Police FC (2014–2015)
Ansan Mugunghwa (2016)
Asan Mugunghwa (2017–present)
0
0
Mugunghwa Athletic Club of the Korean National Police University (2013)
Government of Ansan and Mugunghwa Athletic Club of the Korean National Police University (2014–2016)
Government of Asan and Mugunghwa Athletic Club of the Korean National Police University (2017–present)
0
Founded as a Police FC (semi-professional) on 29 March 1996.
Transferred into a professional club and joined the K League Challenge in 2013.
Inauguration date – 16 March 2014 (Ansan Mugunghwa)
Inauguration date – 16 January 2017 (Asan Mugunghwa)
0※ Ansan Mugunghwa and Asan Mugunghwa are separate legal entities according to the K League.
25
Goyang Hi FC (2013–2015)
Goyang Zaicro FC (2016)
Founded as a semi-professional club in 1999.
Transferred into a professional club and joined the K League Challenge in 2013.
Transferred into an amateur club and left the K League Challenge after the 2016 season.
26
Chungju Hummel (2013–2016) Hummel Korea Founded as a semi-professional club on 9 December 1999.
Transferred into a professional club and joined the K League Challenge in 2013.
27
Suwon FC (2013–present) Government of Suwon and Citizen Stockholder Founded as a semi-professional club on 15 March 2003.
Transferred into a professional club in 2013 and joined the K League Challenge.
28
Bucheon FC 1995 (2013–present) Government of Bucheon and Citizen Stockholder Founded as an amateur club on 1 December 2007.
Transferred into a professional club and joined the K League Challenge in 2013.
29
FC Anyang (2013–present) Government of Anyang and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 2 February 2013; joined the K League Challenge in 2013.
30
Seoul E-Land FC (2015–present) E-Land Group Inauguration date – 22 August 2014; joined the K League Challenge in 2015.
31
Ansan Greeners FC (2017–present) Government of Ansan and Citizen Stockholder Inauguration date – 21 February 2017; joined the K League Challenge in 2017.

ChampionsEdit

Records and statisticsEdit

For details, see K League records and statistics.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Including K League Challenge appearances (second division)

Foreign playersEdit

Season Squad Play in match Notes
1983–1993 2 2
1994 3 2 If three players chosen to South Korea in one club,
three foreign players can play.
1995 3 3
1996–2000 5 3 From 1997 season, foreign goalkeepers were restricted in play the match.
* 1997 season : Two-third of all matches
* 1998 season : one-third of all matches
* From 1999 season : foreign goalkeepers were restricted in K League
2001–2002 7 3 Temporary operation due to support the World Cup.
2003–2004 5 3
2005 4 3
2006–2008 3 3
2009– 3+1 3+1 '+1' is Asian quota.

At the inception of the K League in 1983, only two Brazilian players made rosters. At the time, rules allowed each club to have three foreign players and that the three could also play simultaneously in a game. From the 1996 season, each team had five foreign players among whom three could play in a game at the same time. Moreover, from the 2000 season to the 2002 season, the limit on foreign players was expanded seven but only three could play in a game at the same time. The limit was lower to five in 2003, four in 2005, and three in 2007. From the 2009 season, the number of foreign players went back up to four per team, including a slot for a player from AFC countries.

In the 1985 season, Piyapong Pue-on of Thailand led foreign players in the league in scoring and assists. Other leading players were Rade Bogdanović, who provided 10 goals and 10 assists in the 1996 season. Valeri Sarychev, the K League's most famous foreign goalkeeper, played in 320 league games from 1992 to 2004. He was eventually naturalized as a Korean citizen and given the Korean name Shin Eui-Son which means God's hand because of his stellar play.

In the 1990s, the trend was for the K League to get foreign players from Eastern Europe such as Rade Bogdanović, Radivoje Manic, Saša Drakulić and Denis Laktionov. From 2000, Brazilians became the K League's priority such as Tavares, Mota, Nádson, Adilson and Edu. Since 2009, players from AFC have been fairly popular, especially those from Australia, China, Japan and Uzbekistan.

Franchise systemEdit

  • Non-franchised Period (1983–1986): K League Clubs had franchise but clubs played the all game of round at one stadium.
  • Franchised period (1987–present): K League introduced home and away matches system in 1987.
  • Clubs which are not listed in the table don't have franchise relocations.

Franchise relocationsEdit

Club Original City / area
(joined year)
Non-franchised period
1983–1986
Franchised period
1987–present
Pohang Steelers Daegu+Gyeongbuk (1983) N/A Pohang (1990 / 1988[1]–present)
Jeju United Seoul+Incheon+Gyeonggi (1983) Seoul (1984) Incheon+Gyeonggi (1987) ▶ Seoul (1991)
Bucheon / Mok-dong, Seoul (1996)[2]Bucheon (2001) ▶ Jeju (2006–present)
Busan IPark Busan+Gyeongnam (1983) N/A Busan (1990 / 1989[1]–present)
Ulsan Hyundai Incheon+Gyeonggi (1984) Incheon+Gyeonggi+Gangwon(1986) Gangwon (1987) ▶ Ulsan (1990–present)
FC Seoul Chungcheong (1984) N/A Chungcheong (1987) ▶ Seoul (1990) ▶ Anyang (1996) ▶ Seoul (2004–present)
Seongnam FC Seoul (1989) N/A Cheonan (1996) ▶ Seongnam (2000–present)
Sangju Sangmu[3] Gwangju (2003) N/A Gwangju (2003) ▶ Sangju (2011–present)
Asan Mugunghwa[4] N/A (all matches were away matches) (2013) N/A Ansan (2014) ▶ Asan (2017–present)

[1] K League officially began city franchise policy in 1990, But Pohang Steelers began in 1988 and Busan IPark began in 1989.
[2] Actually Bucheon SK held all home matches at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul until 2000. Because Bucheon Stadium was under construction.
[3] Gwangju Sangmu and Sangju Sangmu are sepate leagal entities by K League. Officially, not relocated and founded as a new club.
[4] Ansan Police and Asan Police are sepate leagal entities by K League. Officially, not relocated and founded as a new club.

K League AwardsEdit

SponsorshipEdit

Season Sponsor League name
19831993
None
19941995 Hite 94 Hite Cup Korean League
95 Hite Cup Korean League
19961997 Rapido 96 Rapido Cup Professional Football Championship
97 Rapido Cup Professional Football Championship
1998 Hyundai Group 98 Hyundai Cup K-League
1999 Hyundai Securities 99 Buy Korea Cup K-League
2000 Samsung Electronics 2000 Samsung DigiTall K-League
2001 POSCO 2001 POSCO K-League
2002 Samsung Electronics 2002 Samsung PAVV K-League
20032008 Samsung Hauzen K-League 2003–2008
2009
None
2010 Hyundai Motor Company Sonata K League 2010
20112016 Hyundai Oilbank Hyundai Oilbank K League 2011–2012
Hyundai Oilbank K League Classic 2013–2016
Hyundai Oilbank K League Challenge 2013–2016
20172018 KEB Hana Bank KEB Hana Bank K League Classic 2017
KEB Hana Bank K League Challenge 2017
KEB Hana Bank K League 1 2018
KEB Hana Bank K League 2 2018
2019–present Hana 1Q K League 1 2019
Hana 1Q K League 2 2019

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "In search of Korea's disappearing Red Devils-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". Koreajoongangdaily.joins.com. 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ "South Korean Teams Fight for Attention at Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  3. ^ "위원석의 하프타임 'K리그'에 새로운 이름을 붙여주자" (in Korean). The Daily Sports Seoul. February 19, 2013. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013.

External linksEdit