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Tuesday 28 May 2013

Premier League stars from the Far East: South Korea

A look back at players from South Korea who have graced the Barclays Premier League

  • Midfielder Ji-Sung Park won the Barclays Premier League four times with Man Utd

  • Dong-Won Ji scored a memorable late winner against Manchester City

  • Swansea City signed Sung-Yeung Ki last summer

  • Won-Hee Cho said he was honoured to play in the Premier League

For football fans in Asia, the Barclays Asia Trophy represents a wonderful opportunity to see the stars of the Barclays Premier League in competitive action and to enjoy an experience similar to that at Barclays Premier League grounds in England.

Over the past decade the level of exchange between the Barclays Premier League and Asia has grown, not just through fans from the Far East having greater interest in the competition and the visits of Barclays Asia Trophy, which started in 2003. Around the same time there has been a greater influence of Asian players in the Barclays Premier League.

To date, 21 players from China, Japan and South Korea have played in the Barclays Premier League since Sun Jihai, Li Tie and Junichi Inamoto started in 2002 (see chart in gallery above). Here looks at the players from South Korea who played in the Barclays Premier League.

Ji-Sung Park (Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers)

Park Ji-Sung became the standard bearer for Korean football in England when he completed his move from PSV Eindhoven to Old Trafford in 2005. He enjoyed incredible success in Manchester, winning the Barclays Premier League four times and becoming the first Korean to appear in the UEFA Champions League final. After 133 appearances and 19 goals for United, Park moved to Queens Park Rangers last summer but could not save them from relegation to the Championship.

“I am not going to England for business. Manchester United is the most famous club in the world. I am getting the chance to play in the best team with the best players."

Manchester United 2005-2012 133 appearances; 19 goals
Queens Park Rangers 2012-present 20 appearances; 0 goals

Dong-Won Ji (Sunderland)

Ji became the youngest Korean player to join the Barclays Premier League when he was brought to the Stadium of Light from Chunnam Dragons by Steve Bruce in the summer of 2011 after his four goals helped South Korea finish third in the 2011 Asia Cup. The forward has scored twice for the Black Cats, including a late winner against Manchester City on New Year’s Day in 2012, but at the start of 2013 Martin O’Neill loaned him to German side Augsburg where his five goals played an important part in the club’s successful fight against relegation.

"The Premier League is a dream league for any Asian players as well as European players. I am very proud to be here."

Sunderland 2011-present 19 appearances; 2 goals.

Sung-Yeung Ki (Swansea City)

Swansea City broke their transfer record to sign the Celtic midfielder near the end of last summer's transfer window. The Olympic bronze medallist settled quickly and made 20 starts in the Premier League this season as his side secured an impressive ninth place in the table.

Swansea City 2012-present 29 appearances; 0 goals

Won-Hee Cho (Wigan Athletic)

Signed by Steve Bruce from Suwon Bluewings on a two-and-a-half year deal, the midfielder had a bad start at Wigan. Before he made his club debut, the 25-year-old tore two calf muscles while on international duty and under new manager Roberto Martinez, he struggled to make his way into the first team on a regular basis. After being loaned back to the Bluewings, Cho was released by mutual consent in February 2011.

"The Premier League is where every player wants to aim for and to be one of the few from my country to play in England is a very big honour for me and my family."

Wigan 2009-11 5 league appearances; 0 goal

  • Do-Heon Kim joined West Bromwich Albion in 2008

  • Winger Chung-Yong Lee became an important part of the Bolton side

  • Middlesbrough's Dong-Gook Lee takes on Everton's Joleon Lescott and Phil Neville

  • Young-Pyo Lee made 70 League appearances for Tottenham Hotspur

Do-Heon Kim (West Bromwich Albion)

The midfielder first moved to the Midlands on loan at the beginning of February 2008, making six appearances and scoring one goal as West Brom won promotion to the Barclays Premier League. He suffered medial knee ligament damage against Middlesbrough in the September of that year but returned quickly and made 16 appearances in a season that ended with West Brom's relegation. He left for Suwon Bluewings in the summer of 2009.

West Brom 2008-2009 16 appearances; 0 goals

Chung-Yong Lee (Bolton Wanderers)

Joining Bolton Wanderers first on loan in 2009, and then on a permanent deal a year later, the winger soon became an important part of the Bolton set up and helped them retain their Barclays Premier League status. However, in the summer of 2011, he suffered a double fracture of his leg in a pre-season friendly against Newport County and was only able to make two appearances as Bolton were relegated to the Championship.

Bolton Wanderers 2009-present 67 appearances; 7 goals

Dong-Gook Lee (Middlesbrough)

Lee joined Gareth Southgate's Boro in the January transfer window in 2007 after returning to action from a knee ligament injury which forced the forward to miss the 2006 World Cup. The next season the forward scored twice, in the Carling Cup and the FA Cup, but struggled to produce his best form and was released in 2008.

Middlesbrough 2007-2008 23 appearances; 0 goals

Young-Pyo Lee (Tottenham Hotspur)

Spurs manager Martin Jol turned to his native Netherlands to sign the left-back, who had impressed in his two-year spell at PSV Eindhoven and for South Korea as they reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2002. He was first choice during most of his first two seasons in England but new manager Juande Ramos let him leave for Borussia Dortmund in 2008.

Tottenham Hotspur 2005-2008 70 appearances; 0 goals

  • Chu-Young Park has made only one League appearance for the Gunners

  • Ki-Hyeon Seol scored five goals during his time in the Premier League

Chu-Young Park (Arsenal)

The striker joined Arsenal near the end of the summer transfer window in 2011 after scoring 25 goals in 91 appearances for Monaco. He scored the winner in the Carling Cup victory over Bolton Wanderers but has only made one Premier League appearance, against Manchester United, and joined Celta Vigo on a season-long loan last summer.

Arsenal 2011-present 1 appearance; 0 goals

Ki-Hyeon Seol (Reading, Fulham)

Reading beat competition from home and abroad to land the 27-year-old forward, who had spent two seasons with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship. He scored four goals, including crucial strikes in the victories over Sheffield United and West Ham United, as Reading finished eighth. He signed for Fulham in 2007, swapping with Liam Rosenior, but after failing to establish himself at Craven Cottage, he moved to South China in January 2010.

Reading 2006-2007 30 appearances; 4 goals
Fulham 2007-2010 18 appearances, 1 goal

Suk-Young Yun (Queens Park Rangers)

The Olympic bronze medallist became Harry Redknapp’s third signing when he joined on a three-and-a-half year deal from Chunnam Dragons. However, the left-back has yet to make a first-team appearance for the club.

Queens Park Rangers 2012-present 0 appearances; 0 goals

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