Long Time No Sea! – Kim Hak-beom Returns to Club Management for the First Time since 2017

Long Time No Sea! – Kim Hak-beom returns to club management for the first time since 2017!

On the 10th of August in 2013, Gangwon FC sacked their manager after losing 4-0 to Jeju United. That man is Kim Hak-beom. Following stints at Seongnam and Korea’s U23 setup, Kim arrives on Jeju Island as the 17th manager of the Tangerines, with the hope of utilising youth to increase ambition.

Last Season By Numbers

Wins: 10

Draws: 11

Losses: 17

Goals Scored: 43

Goals Conceded: 49

Points: 41

Final Position: 9th

Highest Attendance: 10,041 (0-2 vs Jeonbuk)

Lowest Attendace: 3,280 (0-0 vs Gwangju)

Total Paid Attendance: 114,015

What Happened in 2023?

2023 was certainly a roller coaster of mixed success and failure for The Islanders. From incredible unbeaten runs to injuries, manager sackings, and a near-miss relegation battle, it is fair to say 2023 had it all.

Starting off at the tail-end of February, our first game of the season, we hosted Suwon FC. The most promising part of this match was the debut for Yuri. The new man, from the Portuguese side Estrela, had high targets and a lot of expectations from fans. Seemingly, the pressure got the better of him and he finished the game with a missed penalty. Also in that game, Choi Young-jun sustained what would be a long-term injury to his knee which would see him out of action for the next few months.

Fast forward a few matches and Jeju failed to register a win in their first five (2D, 3L). But a string of 11 unbeaten games from 12 saw the Tangerines skyrocket up the table into a contender for ACL football. However, as the famous adage goes, don’t peak too soon…

Following the very impressive unbeaten run, Jeju were unsuccessful in their attempts to pick up a win in their next 10 and only won twice from their final 23 matches – including the five additional Final B games. Amid this topsy-turvy form, Jeju did manage to beat eventual league winners and newly branded Ulsan HD in the FA Cup Quarter-Final at the Ulsan Munsu Stadium in a thrilling game that ended with the away side winning 6-4 in the penalty shootout. The FA Cup run came to a halt as Pohang beat Jeju in the Semi-Final, with Kim Ki-dong’s side pipping Jeonbuk to the trophy.

Nam Ki-il’s resignation after a torrid turn of events, with the additional pressure of fans showing their passion on social media, saw the Islanders appoint Jung Jo-gook as the caretaker for the remainder of the season. Yet, as previously mentioned, results didn’t improve which saw Jeju finish in a rather disappointing 9th place, considering the ACL aspirations pre-season.

Notable Moves

Jeju have shown intent to promote a more youthful side under Kim Hak-beom, which is a delight to many. This reformed Jeju side have made many very good transfers for the 2024 season, however, I will outline the main three I think will push Jeju in the right direction.

Tales – (25, Ponte Preta)

The versatile Brazilian can certainly work wonders in Seogwipo. He can play on the right and left flanks, in both defensive and attacking roles. This allows greater rotation to avoid over-playing the players, which, come the end of the season, could be the defining point between an ACL push or another relegation scrap. As we saw in 2023’s Asian Cup, tired legs can be a major issue, and most likely end in a team’s defeat.

Italo (26, Amazonas)

Signed and announced on the same day as Tales, the second of the new Brazilian duo is there to fill a large gap in midfield left by Kim Bong-soo who started his military service with Gimcheon Sangmu at the turn of the new year.

Kim Tae-hwan (23, Suwon Samsung Bluewings)

Bluewings’ relegation made it hard to keep top talents at the club, but signing someone with the potential of Kim Tae-hwan is an extraordinary acquisition for the Islanders. The future of the Korean National Team back line, the 23-year-old is one of the highly sought-after talents in the K League, Jeju have done an amazing job of getting his signature!

Key Player – Kim Dong-jun

The Suncheon-born goalkeeper proved to be Jeju’s saviour last year, essentially saving them from a close relegation battle (pun intended). 11 clean sheets in 37 league appearances was enough to see Kim finish fourth in the clean sheet table, proving sufficient enough to keep the Islanders afloat (once again, pun intended). All jokes aside, it cannot be understated how important Kim is to Jeju, and after rumours he may be heading to a Japanese club were quickly squashed, fans of the club can remain in joyous spirits as Kim Dong-jun will likely be starting in goal this upcoming season.

Young Player to Watch – Han Jong-mu

The 20-year-old featured 19 times throughout the 2023 campaign, with an accumulated 493 minutes to his name. The potential Han possesses is exceptional, he is a gifted technical player who needs minor improvement before becoming a hot-shot in Korean football. Kim Hak-beom does favour his younger players, so hopefully, Han can get more of a chance under the new leadership.

Biggest Question – Will youth REALLY get a chance?

We all know Kim Ha-beom’s past as an U23 manager for the Korean National Team, and therefore his liking and belief in young talent has stemmed from that. But, just how much of a chance will younger players get? Under Nam Ki-il’s reign, U22 players saw the 15-minute mark in each game, then were subbed off after fulfilling the five-sub quota, which in my opinion is a terrible misuse of their talent, and hinders any progress. So with hope of Kim Hak-beom’s usage of these players, it does beg the question of how much of a chance they will get!

Reason to Watch

As I have stated many times thus far, this new look Jeju side is young and hungry for success. Kim Hak-beom has been somewhat successful historically, winning the FA Cup with Seongnam, so I’m sure he and all Jeju supporters will be hoping he is the man to take them a couple of steps further than the year prior.

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