The Taeguk Warriors currently top Group B in Asian Zone third round qualifying, ahead of surprise packages Lebanon on goal difference, but need to avoid defeat when they host Kuwait next week to complete progress to the fourth round.
They will enter the tie with confidence after seeing off Uzbekistan, who have already reached the next stage of qualifying after a five-game unbeaten run which has seen them concede just one goal.
That defensive solidity was not on show today, however, as Korea Republic were 2-0 up at half-time courtesy of two strikes from Lee, the first coming after 19 minutes and the second in first-half stoppage time.
Substitute Kim extended the lead further within a minute of the restart, before the visitors threatened a late comeback. Ibrohimjon Rahimov reduced the deficit with just over ten minutes to play before Stanislav Andreev converted a penalty to make it 3-2.
There was to be no grandstand finish, though, as Komoliddin Tadjiev was dismissed and Kim doubled his tally a minute into stoppage time to ensure Choi Kang-Hee’s side secured the perfect fillip ahead of the visit of Kuwait.