K-League: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Countries South Korea South Korea
Confederation AFC
Founded 1983
Number of teams 15
Relegation to National League (No relegation)
Domestic cup(s) K-League Cup
FA Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
Pan-Pacific Championship
Current champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2009)
Most championships Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (7)
Website Official
Soccerball current event.svg 2009 K-League
Hangul K-리그
Revised Romanization K-League

The Korea Professional Football League (K-League) is South Korea's only fully professional football league. At the top of the South korean football league system, it is the country's highest and most prestigious level of football competition currently contested by 15 clubs.



The K-League was founded in 1983 as the Korean Super League, with five member clubs. The initial five clubs were Hallelujah FC, Yukong Kokkiri, POSCO Dolphins, Daewoo Royals, Kookmin Bank FC. Hallelujah FC won the inaugural title, finishing one point ahead of Daewoo FC to lift the crown.

In 1998, Korea's football league was reformed and renamed the K-League. Since its creation, the league has expanded from an initial 5 to 15 clubs. Of the 5 inaugural clubs, only Yukong Kokkiri, POSCO Dolphins, and Daewoo Royals remain in the K-League; Kookmin Bank FC dropped out of the league at the end of 1984, and Hallelujah FC followed the season after.


At present the K-League is the only professional league in Korea. It contains fifteen member clubs.

Below the level of the K-League there is the National League, a closed semi-professional/amateur league with fourteen clubs, established in 2003. The third level of football in Korea is the K3 League.

There is, at present, no official system of promotion and relegation between any of the three leagues. However, beginning in 2006, the champions of the National League had been eligible for promotion to the K-League provided they had met certain criteria. Goyang Kookmin Bank and Ulsan Mipo Dockyard, National League champions in 2006 and 2007 respectively, both rejected the opportunity to move up to the K-League. After back-to-back K-League promotion refusals, the National League committee decided to discontinue the conditional promotion system prior to the 2008 season.

The league summary

The K-League season typically begins around March/April and runs to late November each year. The number of games, clubs and the systems used have varied through the years, but for 2009 the league will operate with a full stage regular season followed by a top six championship playoff system.

The fifteen member clubs play each other twice in the regular season giving a total of 28 matches. The top six sides at the end of the regular season will enter the championship playoffs, which decide final standings of the season among the six. In the first two matches, the third-placed team will face the sixth-placed team and the fourth-placed team will face the fifth-placed team, with the two winners then playing off for the right to face the second-placed team. The winner of that match will then progress to the two-legged championship playoff final where the first-placed side lie in wait, with the overall winner of the home and away series being crowned champions for 2009.

The K-League champions, runner-up and third place gain entry to the AFC Champions League the following season.

A number of the member clubs are owned by major Korean Chaebols, and the club names reflect that fact. Clubs have adopted local city names in an effort to integrate themselves more with the local communities; for example, Daewoo evolved over the years into Daewoo Royals, Busan Daewoo Royals, Busan I'cons and latterly Busan I'Park.

Although a number of K-League clubs have relocated in the past, the Lucky Goldstar (LG) corporation caused a huge controversy at the end of 2003 when they made the decision to uproot their Anyang LG Cheetahs from the Seoul satellite city of Anyang and move into the empty Seoul World Cup stadium, becoming FC Seoul. Then following the 2005 season SK announced it was moving the Bucheon SK FC to the island of Jeju, where they became Jeju United.

In the 2009 season, Gangwon FC (Head Coach: Choi Sun-Ho, former Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Chosun head coach) joined the K-League as it's 15th member club. As such, the K-League had one or more club in every Korean Province (Capital, Gyeongsang, Jeolla, Jeonnam, Chungcheong, Gangwon, Jeju) in Korea.

This is the first time in domestic Korean professional sports history that there has been at least two clubs in each Korean province.


Members for 2009 season

As of 2009 Seaon, K-League Clubs By Province

Province (Population) City / Area (Population) Clubs
Capital Region (24,200,705) Seoul (10,207,304) FC Seoul
Incheon (2,693,123) Incheon United
Suwon (1,068,033) Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Seongnam (941,889) Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
Gyeongsang Region (13,056,617) Busan (3,562,642) Busan I'Park
Daegu (2,493,192) Daegu FC
Ulsan (1,112,579) Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Gyeongnam (3,224,676) Gyeongnam FC
Pohang (508,382) Pohang Steelers
Jeolla Region (5,757,649) Gwangju (1,423,519) Gwangju Sangmu FC
Jeonnam (1,918,310) Chunnam Dragons
Jeonbuk(1,855,171) Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Chungcheong Region (5,020,305) Daejeon (1,481,516) Daejeon Citizen
Gangwon Region (1,507,799) Gangwon (1,507,799) Gangwon FC
Jeju Region (560,649) Jeju (560,649) Jeju United
* Population - 2009 census

The following 15 clubs will compete in the K-League during the 2009 season.

  • K-League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.
Club City / Area Home Stadium(s) Joined Owner(s) / Sponsor(s)
Pohang Steelers
포항 스틸러스
Pohang * Steelyard Stadium
0(18,960 seats)
1983 -
Owner : Pohang Steelworks in POSCO
Jeju United
제주 유나이티드
Jeju * Jeju World Cup Stadium
0(35,657 seats)
1983 -
Owner : SK Energy in SK Group
Busan I'Park
부산 아이파크
Busan 0Asiad Main Stadium
0(53,769 seats)
1983 -
Owner : I'Park Sports in Hyundai Development Group
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
울산 현대 호랑이
Ulsan * Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium
0(44,474 seats)
1984 -
Owner : Hyundai Heavy Industries in Hyundai Heavy Industries Group
FC Seoul
FC 서울
Seoul * Seoul World Cup Stadium
0(68,476 seats)
1984 -
Owner : GS Sports in GS Group
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
성남 일화 천마
Seongnam 0Tancheon Sports Complex
0(16,146 seats)
1989 -
Owner : Ilhwa in Tongil Group
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
전북 현대 모터스
Jeonbuk * Jeonju World Cup Stadium
0(42,477 seats)
1994 -
Owner : Hyundai Motor Company in Hyundai Kia Automotive Group
Chunnam Dragons
전남 드래곤즈
Jeonnam * GwangYang Stadium
0(13,496 seats)
1995 -
Owner : Gwangyang Steelworks in POSCO
Suwon Samsung Bluewings
수원 삼성 블루윙즈
Suwon * Suwon World Cup Stadium
0(43,959 seats)
1996 -
Owner : Samsung Electronics in Samsung Group
Daejeon Citizen
대전 시티즌
Daejeon * Daejeon World Cup Stadium
0(40,535 seats)
1997 -
Owners : Government of Daejeon, Citizen Stockholder
Sponsors : Kyeryong Construction Co.,Ltd, Hanwha Group
Daegu FC
대구 FC
Daegu 0Daegu Stadium
0(66,422 seats)
2003 -
Owners : Government of Daegu, Citizen Stockholder
Sponsors : Doosan Group, Daegu Bank
Gwangju Sangmu FC
광주 상무
Gwangju 0Gwangju World Cup Stadium
0(40,245 seats)
2003 -
Owners : Government of Gwangju, Ministry of National Defence
Sponsors : Kumho Asiana Group, Gwangju Bank
Incheon United
인천 유나이티드
Incheon 0Incheon Munhak Stadium
0(50,256 seats)
2004 -
Owners : Government of Incheon, Citizen Stockholder
Sponsors : Daewoo E&C, Shinhan Bank, GM Daewoo
Gyeongnam FC
경남 FC
Gyeongnam 0Changwon Civil Stadium
0(27,085 seats)
2006 -
Owners : Government of Gyeongsangnam-do, Citizen Stockholder
Sponsors : STX Corporation, Gyeongnam Bank
Gangwon FC
강원 FC
Gangwon 0Gangneung Stadium
0(22,333 seats)
0Chuncheon Songam Stadium
0(25,000 seats)
2009 -
Owners : Government of Gangwon-do, Citizen Stockholder
Sponsors : High1 Resort, NongHyup

* In stadium column, * means Football-specific stadium
* Horang-i means tiger, Chunma means Pegasus, Jeonnam = Chunnam

K-League History

Previous Winners

K-League Champions

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the most successful team in terms of championship victories, having lifted the title on no less than seven occasions.
The roll-call of champions is as follows (present-date names included where teams have changed names previously):

  • K-League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.

*Chunma means pegasus, Hwangso means bull, Horang-i means tiger, Kokkiri means elephant

Titles By Season

Season Winners Runners-up
Hallelujah FC Daewoo Royals
Daewoo Royals Yukong Kokkiri
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso POSCO Atoms
POSCO Atoms Luck-Goldstar Hwangso
Daewoo Royals POSCO Atoms
POSCO Atoms Hyundai Horang-i
Yukong Kokkiri Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso Daewoo Royals
Daewoo Royals Hyundai Horang-i
POSCO Atoms Ilhwa Chunma
Ilhwa Chunma LG Cheetahs
Ilhwa Chunma Yukong Kokkiri
Ilhwa Chunma Pohang Atoms
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Busan Daewoo Royals Chunnam Dragons
Suwon Samsung Bluewings Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Suwon Samsung Bluewings Busan Daewoo Royals
Anyang LG Cheetahs Bucheon SK
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Anyang LG Cheetahs
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Suwon Samsung Bluewings Pohang Steelers
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Incheon United
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Pohang Steelers Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC Seoul
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Titles By Club

  • K-League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.[1]
Club Winners Runners-up
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
(Ilhwa Chunma Inc.)
7 (1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006) 3 (1992, 2007, 2009)
Pohang Steelers
(POSCO Atoms, Pohang Atoms Inc.)
4 (1986, 1988, 1992, 2007) 4 (1985, 1987, 1995, 2004)
Busan I'Park
(Daewoo Royals, Busan Daewoo Royals Inc.)
4 (1984, 1987, 1991, 1997) 3 (1983, 1990, 1999)
Suwon Samsung Bluewings 4 (1998, 1999, 2004, 2008) 2 (1996, 2006)
FC Seoul
(Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso, LG Cheetahs,
Anyang LG Cheetahs Inc.)
3 (1985, 1990, 2000) 5 (1986, 1989, 1993, 2001, 2008)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (Hyundai Horang-i Inc.) 2 (1996, 2005) 5 (1988, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003)
Jeju United
(Yukong Kokkiri, Bucheon SK Inc.)
1 (1989) 3 (1984, 1994, 2000)
Hallelujah FC 1 (1983) 0
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1 (2009) 0
Chunnam Dragons 0 1 (1997)
Incheon United 0 1 (2005)

Titles By City / Area

  • Since 1987 season : K-League introduced home and away matches system in 1987.
City / Area Titles Clubs
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso (1990)
Ilhwa Chunma (1993, 1994, 1995)
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1998, 1999, 2004, 2008)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006)
POSCO Atoms (1988, 1992), Pohang Steelers (2007)
Daewoo Royals (1991), Busan Daewoo Royals (1997)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (1996, 2005)
Anyang LG Cheetahs (2000)
Daewoo Royals (1987)
Yukong Kokkiri (1989)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2009)

Titles By Province

  • Since 1987 season : K-League introduced home and away matches system in 1987.
Province Titles City / Area Clubs
Capital Region
(4) Seoul Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso (1990)
Ilhwa Chunma (1993, 1994, 1995)
(4) Suwon Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1998, 1999, 2004, 2008)
(4) Seongnam Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006)
(1) Anyang Anyang LG Cheetahs (2000)
(1) Incheon+Gyeonggi Yukong Kokkiri (1989)
Gyeongsang Region
(3) Pohang POSCO Atoms (1988, 1992), Pohang Steelers (2007)
(2) Busan Daewoo Royals (1991), Busan Daewoo Royals (1997)
(2) Ulsan Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (1996, 2005)
(1) Busan+Gyeongnam Daewoo Royals (1987)
Jeolla Region
(1) Jeonbuk Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2009)
Chungcheong Region
Gangwon Region
Jeju Region
*Kokkiri means elephant, Hwangso means bull, Horang-i means tiger, Chunma means pegasus

K-League Sponsors

Name Start End
None 1983 1985
None 1986 1986
None 1987 1992
South Korea Hite 1993 1995
South Korea Rapido 1996 1997
South Korea Hyundai 1998 -
South Korea Buy Korea 1999 -
South Korea Samsung 2000 -
South Korea POSCO 2001 -
South Korea Samsung 2002 2008
None 2009 -

All-time K-League Clubs

There have been a total of 19 member clubs in the history of the K-League - those clubs are listed below with their current names (where applicable):

  • K-League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.
Club (Duration) Owner(s) Sponsor(s) Note
POSCO Dolphins (1983~1984)
POSCO Atoms (1985-1994)
Pohang Atoms (1995-1996)
Pohang Steelers (1997-present)
Pohang Steelworks in POSCO Founded as a Semi-Professional FC on April 1973
Transferred into a Professional FC on February 1984
Hallelujah FC (1983-1985) defunct Shindongah Group Founded as a 1st Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 20 December 1980
Yukong Kokkiri (1983-1995)
Bucheon Yukong (1996)
Bucheon SK (1997-2005)
Jeju United (2006-present)
SK Energy[1] in SK Group Founded as a 2nd Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 17 December 1982
Daewoo Royals (1983-1995)
Busan Daewoo Royals (1996-1999)
Busan I'cons (2000-2004)
Busan I'Park (2005-present)
defunct Daewoo Group (1983-1999)
I'Park Sports in Hyundai Development Group (2000-present)
Founded as a Semi-Professional FC in 1979
Refounded as a 3rd Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 3 December 1983
Kookmin Bank FC (1983-1984) Kookmin Bank Played as a Semi-Professional FC
Hyundai Horang-i (1984-1995)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (1996-present)
Hyundai Heavy Industries in Hyundai Heavy Industries Group Founded as a 4th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 6 December 1983
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso (1984-1990)
LG Cheetahs (1991-1995)
Anyang LG Cheetahs (1996-2003)
FC Seoul (2004-present)
LG Group (1984-2004)
GS Sports in GS Group[2] (2004~present)
Founded as a 5th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 22 December 1983
Hanil Bank FC (1984-1986) Hanil Bank[3] Played as a Semi-Professional FC
Sangmu FC (1985) Ministry of National Defence Played as a Semi-Professional FC
Ilhwa Chunma (1989-1995)
Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma (1996-1999)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (2000-present)
Ilhwa in Tongil Group Founded as a 6th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 18 March 1989
Jeonbuk Buffalo (1994)
Jeonbuk Dinos (1995-1996)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Dinos (1997-1999)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2000-present)
Hyundai Motor Company in Hyundai Kia Automotive Group (1995-present) Bobaesoju (1994) Founded as a 7th Professional FC On 16 February 1994
Refounded as a Jeonbuk Hyundai Dinos
Inauguration Date - 12 December 1994
Chunnam Dragons
Gwangyang Steelworks in POSCO Founded as a 8th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 16 December 1994
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1996-present) Samsung Electronics in Samsung Group Founded as a 9th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 15 December 1995
Daejeon Citizen (1997-present) Government of Daejeon
Citizen Stockholder
Kyeryong Construction
Hanwha Group
Founded as a 10th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 12 March 1997
Daegu FC (2003-present) Government of Daegu
Citizen Stockholder
Doosan Group
Daegu Bank
Founded as a 11th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 19 March 2003
Gwangju Sangmu FC (2003-present) Government of Gwangju
Ministry of National Defence
Kumho Asiana Group
Gwangju Bank
Joined as a 12th Professional FC in 2003
Incheon United (2004-present) Government of Incheon
Citizen Stockholder
Daewoo E&C
Shinhan Bank
GM Daewoo
Founded as a 13th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 1 March 2004
Gyeongnam FC (2006-present) Government of Gyeongsangnam-do
Citizen Stockholder
STX Corporation
Gyeongnam Bank
Founded as a 14th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 17 January 2006
Gangwon FC (2009-present) Government of Gangwon-do
Citizen Stockholder
High1 Resort
Nong Hyup
Founded as a 15th Professional FC
Inauguration Date - 18 December 2008

[1] Yokong renamed to SK Energy
[2] GS Group is separated from LG Group
[3] Hanil Bank is merged by Woori Bank
Note : Kokkiri means elephant, Horang-i means tiger, Hwangso means bull, Chunma means pegasus

Franchise relocations in K-League

  • During 1983-1986 : K-League Clubs had franchise but clubs played the all game of round at one stadium.
  • Since 1987 season : K-League introduced home and away matches system in 1987.
Club Joined Original City / Area Relocated City / Area
Pohang Steelers
Daegu+Gyeongbuk (1983) Pohang (1990 / 1988[1]-present)
Jeju United
Seoul+Incheon+Gyeonggi (1983) Incheon+Gyeonggi (1987) -> Seoul (1991) -> Bucheon / Mok-dong, Seoul (1996)
[2] -> Bucheon (2001) -> Jeju (2006-present)
Busan I'Park
Busan+Gyeongnam (1983) Busan (1990 / 1989[1]-present)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
Gangwon (1987) Ulsan (1990-present)
FC Seoul
Chungcheong (1987) Seoul (1990) -> Anyang (1996) -> Seoul (2004-present)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
Seoul Cheonan (1996) -> Seongnam (2000-present)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Jeonbuk N/A
Chunnam Dragons
Jeonnam N/A
Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Suwon N/A
Daejeon Citizen
Daejeon N/A
Daegu FC
Daegu N/A
Gwangju Sangmu FC
Gwangju N/A
Incheon United
Incheon N/A
Gyeongnam FC
Gyeongnam N/A
Gangwon FC
Gangwon N/A

[1] K-League offically began city franchise policy in 1990, But Pohang Stleeers began in 1988 and Busan I'Park began in 1989.
[2] Actually Bucheon SK held all home matches at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul until 2000. Because Bucheon Stadium was under construction.

K-League Awards

See also


  1. ^ "The Official K-League Almanac (Korean)". K-League editorial division.  

External links

Simple English

Country South Korea
Confederation AFC
Founded 1983
Level 1
Number of teams 15
Relegation to National League
Current champions FC Seoul (2010)
Most successful club Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (7)

K-League is a football league which is top division in South Korea.


Club 2011

  • Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
  • Pohang Steelers
  • FC Seoul
  • Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
  • Incheon United
  • Chunnam Dragons
  • Gyeongnam FC
  • Ulsan Hyundai
  • Daejeon Citizen
  • Suwon Samsung Bluewings
  • Sangju Sangmu Phoenix
  • Busan I'Park
  • Gangwon FC
  • Jeju United
  • Daegu FC
  • Gwangju FC


2001Seongnam Ilhwa ChunmaAnyang LG Cheetahs
2002Seongnam Ilhwa ChunmaUlsan Hyundai Horangi
2003Seongnam Ilhwa ChunmaUlsan Hyundai Horangi
2004Suwon Samsung BluewingsPohang Steelers
2005Ulsan Hyundai HorangiIncheon United
2006Seongnam Ilhwa ChunmaSuwon Samsung Bluewings
2007Pohang SteelersSeongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2008Suwon Samsung BluewingsFC Seoul
2009Jeonbuk Hyundai MotorsSeongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2010FC SeoulJeju United

Former champions

  • 1983 : Hallelujah
  • 1984 : Daewoo Royals
  • 1985 : Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
  • 1986 : POSCO Atoms
  • 1987 : Daewoo Royals
  • 1988 : POSCO Atoms
  • 1989 : Yukong Kokkiri
  • 1990 : Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
  • 1991 : Daewoo Royals
  • 1992 : POSCO Atoms
  • 1993 : Ilhwa Chunma
  • 1994 : Ilhwa Chunma
  • 1995 : Ilhwa Chunma
  • 1996 : Ulsan Hyundai Horangi
  • 1997 : Busan Daewoo Royals
  • 1998 : Suwon Samsung Bluewings
  • 1999 : Suwon Samsung Bluewings
  • 2000 : Anyang LG Cheetahs



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