The Korean national soccer team is seeking its first championship in 64 years at the 2023 Asian Football Confederation Qatar Asian Cup. Attention is focusing on whether the team will be able to dispel its 64-year slump, dubbed the “curse of fake gold medals.”마카오토토
The first Asian Cup in which Korean soccer players participated was held in Hong Kong in 1956, three years after the end of the Korean War. At that time, the Korea Football Association was poor in all aspects, including finances, as it had only three employees. If the players got injured during the game, the opposing medical team came and treated them. Still, the players showed excellent performance. Choi Jeong-min, dubbed the “golden bridge of Asia,” Ham Heung-cheol, Cha Tae-seong, Son Myung-seop, Kim Ji-sung, Woo Sang-kwon, and Sung Nak-woon were also on display.
Taiwan, then called “free China,” faced off in the final qualifying round after passing the first and second rounds. The team won 2-0 at a home game in Seoul on Aug. 26, but faced a problem ahead of an away game in Taipei on Sept. 2. Due to poor finances of the Korea Football Association, the team flew on a Korean Air (KNA) plane, its national flag carrier, on credit. The team has decided to pay back the plane fare with profits from the friendly matches. In the second round, Korea defeated Taiwan 2-1 to advance to the Asian Cup finals for the first time in Korea’s Asian Cup history.
Four teams from Korea, Hong Kong, Israel and Vietnam took part in the finals held in Hong Kong in September that year. After leaving Taiwan, the Korean team managed to arrive in Hong Kong early in the morning on the day of the game on Sept. 6. After unpacking their bags, taking a break, they went to the stadium. Korea gave up two goals in the beginning, but recovered two to tie the game 2-2. The draw with Hong Kong, which was once a strong team by running a professional league at the time, gave a big boost to its win. In the second round, Korea beat Israel (then affiliated with the Asian Football Confederation) 2-1 and Vietnam 5-3, becoming the first winner with two wins, one draw and five points.
The first Asian Cup trophy, which had many twists and turns, became a national registered cultural asset (No. 493) in 2012. What is peculiar is that it is not a large-scale trophy that was lifted by actual players at the event. The Asian Football Confederation did not award a trophy to an early winner including the first event. Instead, a small winning cup made of silver (銀) was made and handed out to players. The trophy has been designated as a cultural asset and is currently stored at the Korea Sports Museum of the Korean Sports Association.
Korea, which became the first champion, built the Hyochang Stadium in Seoul to host the second Asian Cup. When the bid to host the event was confirmed in June 1959, then President Rhee Syng-man ordered the construction of a soccer stadium in Hyochang Park. On October 12, 1960, just before the competition was held, the Hyochang Stadium was completed, but President Lee, who stepped down due to the April 19 Revolution, could not attend the Gyeongpyeong OB Exhibition to commemorate the opening.
Korea’s first Asian Cup was held as the opening ceremony of the fourth Asian Cup president Yoon Bo-sun. The four countries that participated in the finals were Korea, Israel, Taiwan and Vietnam. Korea has achieved two consecutive victories through three games amid performances by Cho Yoon-ok (four goals) who was dubbed “the magician of dribbles” and Woo Sang-kwon (two goals) who was nicknamed “the heart of steel.”
Hyochang Stadium, which accommodates about 20,000 people, attracted more than 100,000 people to watch the opening game between Korea and Vietnam. Korea defeated Vietnam 5 to 1, as spectators who were pushed out of the stands came down to the stadium to watch. Korea defeated Israel 3 to 0 in the second round and Taiwan 1-0 in the third round.
Cho Yoon-ok scored two goals each in the first match against Vietnam and the second match against Israel, becoming the first Korean player to become the top scorer. Choi Jeong-min and defender Kim Hong-bok, who were Asia’s best strikers in the 1960s, experienced two consecutive wins.
After winning the second Asian Cup, a famous “curse of fake gold medals” incident occurred. After winning the Asian Cup twice, the Korea Football Association made a plated gold medal with the support money received from the Asian Football Confederation and distributed it to 23 players. Due to low production costs, the gold covered on the medal was quickly peeled off. There was even a rumor in the middle that someone stole the gold. Choi Jung-min and others protested and eventually all the players returned the medal.
After the incident, which angered the players, the Korean soccer team failed to lift the Asian Cup title for 64 years. The team finished second four times (1972, 1980, 1988, 2015) and third place four times (1964, 2000, 2007, and 2011), but it never won the title.
At the 1964 Olympics in Israel, which was the third competition, it sent out second-class athletes to focus on the Tokyo Olympics, and failed to make it to the finals for three consecutive years. At the 1968 Olympics in Iran, the team failed to advance to the finals at all, losing to Japan and Taiwan in the preliminary games.
At the 1972 event (Thailand), in which stars including Cha Bum-keun, Lee Ho-taek, Kim Ho-gon and Kim Ho-gon were deployed, the team advanced to the finals for the first time since 1960, but ended up as runner-up after losing to Iran 1-2. Park Yi-cheon scored in the 19th minute of the second half to lead the game to overtime, but he lost to Kalani in the second half.
Ahead of the 1976 tournament (Iran), he made a standing army and made a final list, but failed to make it to the finals after losing to Malaysia and Thailand in the preliminary round.
In the 1980 tournament (Kuwait), Choi Soon-ho scored a goal, but in the final, he gave three goals to the host country, Kuwait, and was completely defeated 0-3.
In the 1984 tournament (Singapore), he failed to reach the semifinals with only two draws and two losses in the group stage.