WORLD CUP APPEARANCES
WORLD CUP RECORD
Fourth Place (2002)
GOALS SCORED (RANK)
South Korea was outmatched in its first World Cup. A 9-0 loss to Hungary was followed up with 7-0 defeat against Turkey. The 16 goals surrendered during the group stage were easily the most, as West Germany – coincidentally the eventual champions – allowed the second-most with nine goals.
Did Not Participate
Making its first appearance in 32 years, South Korea managed several firsts on the World Cup stage. Park Chang-Sun scored the country’s first World Cup goal in a 3-1 loss to Argentina. In the next game South Korea played Bulgaria to a draw, another first.
A second consecutive trip to the World Cup was about the only positive takeaway for South Korea in 1990. The team finished 0-0-3, with six goals allowed and just one goal scored. Hwangbo Kwan was responsible for South Korea’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Spain.
South Korea finished third in its group in 1994 – the country’s first time placing better than fourth – on the strength of draws against Spain and Bolivia. If not for a narrow 3-2 loss to Germany, South Korea could have advanced to the knockout stage for the first time.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup represented a step back for South Korea. The team finished 0-1-2 with losses to the Netherlands and Mexico, and a draw against Belgium. South Korea’s -7 goal differential was the worst of any team in the Group Stage.
In 2002, South Korea and Japan cohosted the first FIFA World Cup in Asia. The homefield advantage benefitted South Korea, as the country won its group for the first time. In the knockout stage, South Korea defeated Italy and Spain before falling to Germany in the Semi-finals and to Turkey in the third-place game.
South Korea just missed the cut in 2006, finishing group play with a 1-1-1 record. The team’s 2-1 victory over Togo was the first time South Korea won a World Cup match outside of its own country.
Four years later, South Korea again achieved a 1-1-1 record in the Group Stage, but this time it was enough to advance to the knockout stage, just the second time the team had done so. In the round of 16, South Korea lost 2-1 to Uruguay.
South Korea finished in fourth place in its group for the fifth time in nine World Cup appearances. The showing began with a draw against Russia, but was followed up with losses to Algeria and Belgium.
The 2018 World Cup is South Korea’s 10th entry, and ninth in a row. South Korea finished runner-up to Iran in its group at the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers.