Hong Myung-bo (Korean: 홍명보, Hanja: 洪明甫; Korean pronunciation: [hoŋmjʌŋbo]) (born February 12, 1969 in Seoul) is a South Korean former footballer and former manager of the South Korean national team. Hong, along with Cha Bum-kun, is often considered one of the greatest Asian footballers of all time. Hong was a member of the South Korean national team in four World Cups, and was the first Asian player to play in four consecutive World Cup final tournaments.
Hong often played as a centre-back but also played at the full-back position. He was often touted to be the best sweeper in Asia at that time. He was often cited as the "Korean Libero" by the media due to his ability to play deep into the midfield and strike a long distance ball. He retired as a player following the end of the 2004 Major League Soccer season, having finished his career with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was chosen among the "FIFA 100", Pelé's selection of the 125 greatest living footballers in the world. He was the only South Korean footballer in the FIFA 100. He was also the recipient of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Bronze Ball. No other Asian player has yet achieved this feat.
He managed the South Korea national under-20 football team in 2009, and led the team to the quarterfinals in the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Since being appointed in 2009, he has worked as head coach of the under-23 football team. Under his guidance, the South Korean national football team was able to receive the bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, which set up a record by obtaining the first medal ever for South Korea in Olympic football as well as being the first Asian team in 44 years to win a medal at that event. On June 24, 2013, Hong was appointed as the head coach of South Korean national football team to lead the team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but resigned the post a year later following the team's poor showing at the World Cup.
Hong's first appearance at a World Cup finals was at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Hong played in all three group stage matches against Belgium, Spain, and Uruguay. However, South Korea was eliminated in the group stage after losing all the three games.
Hong's talent was most notable during the 1994 World Cup group stage. When South Korea had only 5 minutes to catch up Spain, who was leading the match with the score of 2-0, Hong scored the first goal and assisted the winger Seo Jung-won to score the equalizer goal shortly after, making the match a memorable draw against Spain.
In the match that took place two weeks later, South Korea was losing during the first half with the score of 3-0 to Germany – the defending World Champions at the time, represented by numerous skillful players including Jürgen Klinsmann, Jürgen Kohler, Matthias Sammer, Rudi Völler and Lothar Matthäus. After assisting the striker Hwang Sun Hong to strike the first goal into the net, Hong scored the second goal himself, but that was the last goal of the match.
Hong's third World Cup appearance was at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Hong played all three group stage matches of South Korea against Mexico, Netherlands and Belgium. South Korea was eliminated at the first round with 1 draw (Belgium) and 2 losses (Mexico and Netherlands).
Hong captained the South Korean national team to a historic fourth-place finish in the 2002 World Cup. He scored the winning penalty to secure a 5–3 shootout victory in the quarter final against Spain after a goalless draw. The Technical Study Group voted him as the third best player of the tournament (Bronze Ball award), the first ever Asian player to be named in the top 3 players in a World Cup. Leader of the Korean defensive trio alongside Kim Tae-young and Choi Jin-cheul, he ended his international career after the 2002 World Cup as the all-time leader in appearances for the South Korean national team, with 135 caps.
Hong married Cho Soo-mi, who was five years younger than him, in 1997. He has two sons, Hong Seong-min and Hong Jeong-min. One of them is currently attending Korea International School. Hong also has two younger siblings. Hong is known for his reticence and charisma.