By John Duerden
It is not surprising that, when it comes to South Korean players overseas, the spotlight has long been dominated by Son Heung-min. The Tottenham Hotspur forward has been one of the best and most consistent players in the English Premier League for almost a decade. Yet Son is not the only Korean show in town. Hwang Hee-chan has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.
Back in 2015, the same year that Son moved from Bayer Leverkusen in Germany to head to North London, Hwang left East Asia for Red Bull Salzburg. After impressing in Austria, he signed for RB Leipzig. In August 2021, he was loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League. He started well with some early goals but then for the rest of the first season and also in the last campaign, struggled to keep that momentum going, though there were some injury issues too. As he failed to impress last year, there were rumors that he may be leaving the West Midlands to head elsewhere. At the time, few fans would have been too upset at his departure.
Hwang has always had the tools to be a formidable forward: strength, pace and technique. He has, however, struggled at times to fulfill the potential that he obviously has. All knew that there was a very good player in there somewhere but showing it has been a different challenge.
Yet, this season, it is all coming together as the Chuncheon-born attacker has been one of the best players in England so far. He has scored six goals in the first 11 league games. It is the best goalscoring record of any Wolves player for over 50 years. And he also has the record of scoring in all five home games so far this season. It is impressive.
“To have this record is a great honor as a Wolves player. I want to keep going and score as many as possible,” Hwang said after a fine goal against Newcastle United. “My goals come from teamwork. We train very hard to understand each other. It wasn’t a penalty but my teammates kept their trust and I really wanted to do something for them.”
Now Hwang has become a respected player in what is regarded as the toughest domestic league in the world. He is also a fan favorite and a crucial player going forward.
It is also very good news for South Korea. There are some very important games going forward for the national team. The Taeguk Warriors start qualification for the 2026 World Cup with a home game against Singapore on Nov.16. That should be a comfortable win but it is followed by a tough trip to China five days later when there is sure to be a hostile atmosphere.
In January, there is also the small matter of the Asian Cup, a tournament that Korea has not won since way back in 1960. Son has long borne the burden in attack for the national team but now, Hwang is reporting for duty as one of the most in-form forwards in the toughest league around.