Photos provided by the GIC
K-League football teams across the country will open their gates for the first time this year on March 4, with hopes of luring new fans to the beautiful game. Here are just five reasons to get to a game and why you will love this league.
1. Bring Your Own
Let us start with the basics: this league is extremely friendly on the wallet. Not only are tickets merely 10,000-15,000 won, but K-League is exactly like the beloved Korean Baseball Organization in allowing fans to bring in as much food and beverage as they can carry. Stuff your backpack with a six-pack of your choice and plenty of snacks, and carry a large pizza to share with friends out in the open; they absolutely will not stop you at the gate. Should you forget to pick up your favorite tasties, fret not: most stadiums have GS25s or Mini Stops where you can buy beverages and snacks at the exact same price you would at the corner store.
K-League has some truly magnificent venues, including six World Cup stadiums from the 2002 tournament held here, and you are free to explore them from every angle. Unlike elite European leagues, where you must sit in the same seat and watch the match from the same angle without any ability to move around, most K-League tickets are general admission and allow fans to roam the majority of the stadium at will. With this freedom fans can get much closer to the pitch than in other leagues and truly get a feel for the speed of the game, watching players race by and hearing them shout instructions. If being close is not your thing, then you are free to move just about anywhere else in the stadium. Prefer to sit near the top and sip your beer while talking tactics with a friend? Go for it. Want to bring in a blanket and have a family style picnic on the concourse? You are more than welcome. The match day experience you have in the stadium is limited only by your personal preferences.
3. Champions of Asia
Worried the quality will not live up to what you usually watch on TV? In all honesty, K-League cannot match the star power and sheer skill seen in Europe’s top leagues; none outside of the moneyed European leagues can. But you can rest assured that Korean football is some of the absolute best in Asia and has the trophies to prove it. The Asian Football Confederation Champions League is a ten-month-long competition that spans all the way from Australia to Iran to Japan and everywhere in between. Just last year, K-League added another Champions League trophy to its cabinet when Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors took home the 2016 title. In fact, of the 35 AFC Champions League competitions, a K-League team has won an astounding 11 – more than double that of the next closest league, Japan’s J-League, which has won five.
4. Every Team Has a Story
This season sees a glut of storylines and drama from top to bottom. Perhaps more than in any other year, the title is truly up for grabs in 2017, with each of the 12 teams believing they have a shot at glory. From the newly promoted and highly ambitious Gangwon FC signing Korean stars like 2016 MVP Jung Jo-gook to perennial frontrunners and defending champions FC Seoul seeking their first Champions League crown, every team has something to play for. There can be only one champion, but a top-three finish will guarantee a spot in the 2018 Champions League, which means the top five or six teams will likely clash for those spots until the last game. Even the teams at the bottom of the table have something to fight for as only 12th place is assured relegation. The 11th place is given a second chance if they win a two-game playoff against a lower-division opponent. If all this is not enough, there is also the KFA Cup. The nationwide tournament is open to pro and amateur teams, and sees a slew of upsets and unexpected heroes, with the winner also getting a place in the 2018 Champions League. So even if a team is struggling in 7th or 8th place in the league, the KFA Cup can provide a much-needed lifeline. Whether it is fighting with the league’s best for the title, scrapping for every point to avoid relegation, or continuing an unlikely run in the KFA Cup, quite literally every team has something to play for all season long.
5. “Support Your Local”
Across the globe, there is an unwritten rule among football fans to “support your local,” meaning you should support the club you are connected to, even if that connection is as simple as where you currently live. Be proud of your city and your team! Because with this pride can come a connection to the people within the community. It can also include being embroiled in a fierce and enthralling rivalry like the Seoul vs. Suwon Super Match or the Jeonbuk vs. Jeonnam Jeolla Derby. For expats, supporting your local is a great way to bridge a cultural gap with Korean fans through the common bond of football. It is an easy way to meet new friends and an even easier excuse to spend time with them. After all, there are far worse ways to spend an evening than sitting outside for a few hours sharing drinks and laughs with friends while enjoying cheap entertainment.
For news, updates, and analysis on all things K-League, go to KLeagueUnited.com or follow on Twitter @KLeagueUnited.