- Cha Bum-Kun –Goals: 58
- Hwang Sun-Hong – Goals: 50
- Park Lee-Chun – Goals: 36
- Kim Jae-Han – Goals: 33
- Son Heung-Min – Goals: 33
South Korea National Football Team History
Post-Japanese Occupation Beginnings
After the Japanese occupation ended, South Korea created a football federation in 1948. That same year, the South Korean national football team participated in their first tournament, the Summer Olympics.
In 1954, South Korea defeated Japan 7-3 on aggregate to become just the second Asian team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, their performance was one of the worst in the history of the tournament.
Major Trophy at the 1956 AFC Asian Cup
Regardless, they won their first major trophy at the inaugural AFC Asian Cup in 1956. The Taegeuk Warriors retained their title in 1960 but haven’t won the AFC Asian Cup since. They finished as runners up in 1972 and 1980 but failed to qualify for a World Cup in the 60’s and 70’s.
Another South Korea FIFA World Cup appearance finally came at Mexico 1986. Their much awaited return started off with a 3-1 loss to eventual champions Argentina. Park Chang-Sun scored South Korea’s first-ever World Cup goal in the match. With a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria, the Taegeuk Warriors got their first-ever World Cup point but fell 3-2 to Italy in the group stage finale.
Home-Soil World-Cup Win
South Korea qualified for the World Cup again in 1990, 1994, and 1998 but failed to get out of the group stage in any of them. Fans had to wait until 2002 for South Korea’s first World Cup win, but it came on home soil. In Busan, South Korea defeated Poland 2-0 in their opener with goals from Hwang Sun-Hong and Yoo Sang-Chul.
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With a late equalizer, South Korea national football team drew 1-1 with the USA in their next match. In the group stage finale, South Korea defeated Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo and Portugal with a score of 1-0 and won their group. Incredibly, in their first knockout stage appearance, South Korea made the semifinals and were narrowly eliminated by Germany.
A 27-Game Unbeaten Streak
Four years later, the Taegeuk Warriors were unable to reach the heights they did in 2002. At Germany 2006, they were eliminated in the World Cup group stage for a sixth time in seven World Cup appearances. South Korea were on an impressive 27-game unbeaten streak in 2009 and hopes were high for South Africa 2010.
South Korea returned to the knockout stage in 2010, opening up their campaign with a 2-0 win vs. Greece. Despite a 4-1 loss vs. Argentina, South Korea made the knockout stage with a 2-2 draw vs. Nigeria. Uruguay, with a 2-1 win, eliminated the South Koreans in the round of 16.
Ten World Cups in a Row
Qualifying again in 2014, 2018 and 2022, South Korea have appeared at an incredible 10 World Cups in a row. The Taegeuk Warriors were underwhelming in 2014 but got a shocking 2-0 win against Germany in 2018. Despite getting eliminated along with Germany, the South Korea national football team caused the first German first-round exit in 80 years.
With their appearance at the 2022 World Cup being their 11th, no Asian team has qualified more times than South Korea. Qualification for Qatar 2022 came in the form of a 2-0 win over Syria, in Dubai.
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