By John Duerden
Since Park Ji-sung left Manchester United in 2012 after seven successful seasons at Old Trafford, only one South Korean player has won a major European league championship. That is Kim Min-jae. The central defender starred as Napoli strolled to the league in Italy and he may well be about to repeat the feat in Germany with Bayern Munich.
Kim is a trailblazer in more ways than one and when you join Bayern Munich then you know that trophies are not far away. The Bavarian giant has won the Bundesliga 33 times with 18 of those coming in this century alone. It may not be easy as Bayer Leverkusen has been looking very strong indeed and Bayern slipped to a 5-1 defeat in Frankfurt at the weekend. Yet, the club knows what it takes to win at home and also have six European titles. It would be an amazing achievement for a South Korean player to win the biggest club prize on the planet. Park went all the way with Manchester United in 2008 but was, famously, left out of the roster in the final against Chelsea in Moscow.
There is still some way to go but Bayern already strolled through the group stage and is looking good. It is also looking good for Cho Gue-song. The Denmark championship may not be quite as prestigious as its German counterpart but Cho is on course for the title. The 25-year-old left Jeonbuk Motors last summer to join FC Midtjylland for around $3 million. The striker came to the attention of several European clubs at the 2022 World Cup when he scored two fine goals against Ghana in Qatar.
He chose to join the three-time champion of Denmark. In his first 15 league appearances, Cho has scored eight goals, a fine return for a player who has just arrived in Europe. His performances have helped him become a popular figure in central Denmark. The challenge now is to sustain his form over the rest of the season.
Then there is Oh Hyeon-gyu at Celtic. Since joining the Scottish giant in January, the 22-year-old has settled well. He is not yet an automatic starting member for the Glasgow team but has contributed with goals as Celtic look set for another league championship.
Son Heung-min looks destined not to win a major European championship in his career, though there is always the possibility of cups. Tottenham Hotspur started the season under new coach Ange Postecoglou though have faded of late. There is not going to be a title coming to North London anytime soon. It is the same for Hwang Hee-chan at Wolverhampton Wanderers, a club that would be delighted to finish in the top half of the English Premier League. His goalscoring exploits this season mean that bigger clubs are interested in Hwang so a league title is not an impossibility.
All in all, however, there should be at least some South Korean stars celebrating championships at the end of this European season.