Hwang Sun-Hong: J-League is Killing Korean Football

24 Jan

Hwang Sun-Hong, the manager of Pohang Steelers, opened his mouth about his thoughts on the J-League.


“A manager has to win trophies of course, but it is also a manager’s duty to develop young talents who can lead the team in the future. So I am aiming to help young players grow at Pohang,” said the former South Korean superstar. “But some circumstances make my plan very hard.”

“I’m expecting a lot from Bae Chun-Suk at the moment. He has potentials. That’s why I’m so disappointed about his waste of time in Japan,” he continued.

Bae Chun-Suk is a young striker who went through the famous youth system of Pohang. He was called up to the national team at various age level and was regarded as the best prospect at the Pohang youth squad. However, in the summer of 2011, he chose to move to Vissel Kobe in the J-League, a decision that turned out to be a disaster. Bae Chun-Suk had to stay on bench mostly and had a hard time with injuries.

“Now there is a gap between Bae Chun-Suk and his friends from Pohang youth such as Ko Mu-Yeol and Lee Myung-Joo. Recently I asked Bae Chun-Suk if he admits the gap. He said he did. There’s definitely a huge gap at the moment. Bae Chun-Suk needs to catch up them quickly.”

Hwang Sun-Hong moved on to express his concern over young Korean players who choose to move to Japan with a false belief that playing abroad is always a good choice.

“I don’t understand why so many young players just head to Japan and return to Korea later without having achieved anything. Was there any young player who went to Japan and became successful recently? Not many of them even play matches regularly. I heardIn there are over 40 Korean players in the first and the second divisions in Japan but I can’t even see where they are. Managers of university clubs complain Korean clubs don’t select players in draft. I don’t know who should we pick when all the good players have gone to Japan.”

Hwang Sun-Hong also enjoyed success in Japan during his career as a player. He headed to the J-League after 1998 World Cup and spent several successful seasons, becoming the league top scorer in 1999 at Cerezo Osaka. However, he emphasized that there is a difference between now and then.

“At the time when I went to Japan, facilities in Korea were bad. There were only eight clubs and there was a huge difference in wage between Korea and Japan. From pitch to training facilities, Japan was superior in terms of football at the time. But now, there is not much difference.”

Hwang Sun-Hong criticized young Korean players who head to Japan to enjoy a more comfortable life.

“A footballer needs to develop himself when he is 19 or 20. In Korea, players at that age learn by being scolded by managers and having difficult times. And that’s what young players want to avoid,” said the former striker who scored 50 international goals for South Korea. “Japan may seem attractive because you train less, you get paid more and no one tells you what to do. But that’s a foolish choice.”

“Being in Japan and being in Korea is totally different. In Japan, they don’t really teach you. Why would they teach and take care of foreign players?” He pointed out that young Koreans think they are being treated well because no one tells them what to do. But in his view, they are being neglected and losing a chance to truly develop themselves.

“Japanese clubs sweep players from Korea. It’s as if they have plans to destroy Korean football system.”

Hwang Sun-Hong ended with few pieces of advice for young Korean players.
“I don’t want them to be tempted because of money. They also need those who can give great advice. You can live a hard life and then live a comfortable life. But you can’t live a hard life after you enjoy a comfortable one. You need to experience hardships when you are young.”


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