Asia's most frequent visitors to the FIFA World Cup™, Korea Republic are also the continent's most successful team at the showpiece event. The Taeguk Warriors will be hoping to translate their regional dominance on to the world stage again when South Africa 2010 kicks off.
The road to South Africa
Korea Republic may have qualified for their seventh consecutive world finals, but it was a bumpy ride this time. Despite a series of lacklustre performances in the third round, the South Koreans managed to top their group after two goalless draws with neighbours Korea DPR. The North Koreans proved to be their nemesis again in the final round, holding the Taeguk Warriors to a 1-1 stalemate in Shanghai. However, they bounced back in style with back-to-back wins over United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, before a crucial 1-1 draw with Iran in Tehran. A 1-0 home victory in the Korean derby followed, and the mission was accomplished with a 2-0 win against UAE on the road.
The star players
Park Ji-Sung has played a key role in Korea Republic's two previous FIFA World Cup campaigns and established himself as the captain of his country in recent years. The multifunctional winger of Manchester United is now an indispensible member of the Taeguk Warriors, with his ability to create space and chances for his team-mates.
A clinical forward, Park Chu-Young is widely tipped as the one to solve the problem in front of goal. After a below-par performance against Switzerland at Germany 2006, the Monaco marksman is eager to redeem himself in the national team as the No10 prepares for his second appearance at the showpiece event at the age of 24.
The appointment of Huh Jung-Moo in December 2007 put an end to the Dutch influence under the likes of Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat. Despite a sluggish start in the Asian Zone qualifying, the former Korea Republic midfielder silenced his critics by guiding his experimental side into the finals with two games to spare.
Having scored a goal against Italy at Mexico 1986, he is no stranger to this stage as he also took part in Italy 1990 and USA 1994 as fitness trainer and assistant coach respectively. Huh was an interim coach of Korea Republic twice before, and led the U-23 side at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000.
Previous FIFA World Cups
Although Korea Republic were the first team to represent Asia at the FIFA World Cup in 1954, it took more than three decades for them to make their second appearance at Mexico 1986. While the South Koreans have become regulars to the tournament since then, a victory in the competition remaining elusive until 2002, when the co-hosts got off to a winning start with a 2-0 reverse of Poland, before beating Portugal 1-0 to reach the second round. They went on to defeat Italy and Spain to advance to the semi-finals, where they lost 1-0 to Germany. But their subsequent journey to Germany four years later came to a premature end, as the Taeguk Warriors made an early exit from the group stage.
What they said
"This will be the last chapter in my football life. I will put in all my energy to achieve good results in the World Cup," Korea Republic coach Huh Jung-Moo