3 players earn 1st S. Korean senior callups ahead of Sept. friendlies

Three new players will join South Korea for their two men's football friendly matches next month, while some injured attackers based in Europe still earned their callups.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) on Monday released the list of 25 names to face Wales and Saudi Arabia in September under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The squad features a handful of mainstays, including Tottenham Hotspur captain Son Heung-min, Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae and Mainz 05 midfielder Lee Jae-sung.

Klinsmann gave three players their first senior international callups: Gimcheon Sangmu FC goalkeeper Kim Joon-hong, Brentford defender Kim Ji-soo and Gwangju FC midfielder Lee Soon-min.

The two Kims, unrelated, represented South Korea during the young Taegeuk Warriors' run to the semifinals at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in June this year. Kim Joon-hong turned 20 in June and Kim Ji-soo is still just 18 years old.

Lee, on the other hand, is a late bloomer at 29 who has never played for the national team in any age-group. He has been a key midfielder in Gwangju FC's rise to third place in the K League 1 this year, their first season after earning promotion from the second-tier K League 2.

Lee Dong-gyeong of Ulsan Hyundai FC and Kang Sang-woo of Beijing Guoan are both back on the national team for the first time since January 2022.

Celtic FC forward Yang Hyun-jun, who has yet to play for the senior team despite earning some recent callups, will try to get on the pitch this time.

Yang's South Korean teammate at Celtic, forward Oh Hyeon-gyu, also made the national squad, despite suffering a calf injury in early August that was expected to keep him out for up to six weeks.

Also up front, FC Midtjylland forward Cho Gue-sung got the callup despite missing some recent matches in Denmark with an apparent hamstring injury.

The third forward for South Korea, Hwang Ui-jo of Nottingham Forest, has yet to play for his Premier League side this season after seeing some action in the preseason.

Among midfielders, Wolverhampton Wanderers attacker Hwang Hee-chan sustained a hamstring injury during a Premier League match Saturday but Klinsmann still put him on the South Korean roster.

Three others on the mend have been left off this time: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) midfielder Lee Kang-in, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defender Kim Jin-su and Shonan Bellmare goalkeeper Song Bum-keun.

South Korea will travel to Cardiff to play Wales at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 7 local time, or 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 8 South Korean time.

South Korea will then hop over to Newcastle, England, to take on Saudi Arabia at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 local time, or 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 13 in Seoul.

Klinsmann will be chasing his first win as South Korea's bench boss, after recording two draws and two losses in four matches in March and June.

These September matches overlap with South Korea's preparations for the Asian Games with their under-24 team.

Two members of the Asian Games squad, Ulsan defender Seol Young-woo and KAA Gent midfielder Hong Hyun-seok, will be with Klinsmann's team first before joining the U-24 team in China.

Klinsmann, however, did not call up four other Asiad-bound players who would have been considered for the senior team: Jeonbuk midfielders Paik Seung-ho and Song Min-kyu, VfB Stuttgart midfielder Jeong Woo-yeong, and Dynamo Dresden defender Park Kyu-hyun.

Last week, PSG ruled out Lee for the upcoming international break with a left quadriceps injury, though the 22-year-old midfielder, who was named to the Asian Games team last month, could become available for the continental event.

In a departure from a long-held practice in South Korean football, Klinsmann chose to unveil the roster in a press release rather than hold a press conference to discuss his choices. Klinsmann is currently staying in his Los Angeles home and is scheduled to meet his team in Wales.

Source: Yonhap News Agency