K League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from K-League)
Jump to: navigation, search
K League
K League.png
Country South Korea South Korea
Confederation AFC
Founded 1983
Divisions K League Classic
K League Challenge
Number of teams 23
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
Current champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (Classic)
Daejeon Citizen (Challenge)
Most championships Seongnam FC (7)
Website Official Website

K League (Korea Professional Football League) is South Korea's professional association football league including first division K League Classic and second division K League Challenge.[1][2] The fact that both the first and second divisions have very similar names has caused some degree of confusion and controversy[3]


The K League Classic was founded in 1983 as the Korean Super League, with five member clubs. The initial five clubs were Hallelujah FC, Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, Daewoo Royals, Kookmin Bank FC. Hallelujah FC won the inaugural title, finishing one point ahead of Daewoo Royals to lift the crown.

In 1998, Korea's football league was reformed and renamed the K League. (K League was official orthography by 2012) Since its creation, the league has expanded from an initial 5 to 16 clubs. Of the 5 inaugural clubs, only Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, and Daewoo Royals remain in the K League; Kookmin Bank FC dropped out of the league at the end of 1984, and Hallelujah FC followed the season after.

In 2013, K League introduced the division system. The first division's name is K League Classic, the second division's name is K League Challenge and the comprehensive brand name is K League.


Below the K League Classic, there is the K League Challenge, and below the K League Challenge, there is the National League, a closed semi-professional/amateur league with fifteen clubs, established in 2003. The fourth level of football in Korea is the K3 League.

There was no official system of promotion and relegation. However, beginning in 2013, the champions of K League Challenge is eligible for promotion to the K League Classic, provided they had met certain criteria. In 2012 season, two teams from K League Classic was relegated to K League Challenge, and in 2013, two teams will be relegated to K League Challenge, and 11th placed team from K League Classic and the first placed team from K League Challenge will have a relegation play-off.


Current K League Clubs[edit]

All-time K League Clubs[edit]

There have been a total of 19 member clubs in the history of the K League – those clubs are listed below with their current names (where applicable):

  • K League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.
  • Clubs in italic no longer exist.
Club (Duration) Owner(s) Sponsor(s) Note
POSCO FC (1973–1983)
POSCO Dolphins (1983–1984)
POSCO Atoms (1985–1994)
Pohang Atoms (1995–1996)
Pohang Steelers (1997–present)
POSCO Founded as a Semi-Professional FC on April 1973
Transferred into a Professional FC on February 1984
Hallelujah FC (1983–1985) defunct Shindongah Group Inauguration Date – 20 December 1980
Yukong Elephants (1983–1995)
Puchon Yukong (1996–1997.09)
Puchon SK (1997.10–2000)
Bucheon SK (2001–2005)
Jeju United (2006–present)
SK Energy[1] in SK Group Inauguration Date – 17 December 1982
Saehan Motors FC (1979–1980)
Daewoo FC (1980–1983)
Daewoo Royals (1983–1995)
Pusan Daewoo Royals (1996–1999)
Pusan i.cons (2000–2002.07)
Pusan I'Cons (2002.07–2004)
Busan I'Park (2005–2011)
Busan Ipark (2012–present)
defunct Daewoo Group (1983–1999)
Hyundai Development Company (2000–present)
Founded as a Semi-Professional FC in 1979
Refounded as a Professional FC
Inauguration Date – 3 December 1983
Kookmin Bank FC (1983–1984) Kookmin Bank Played as a Semi-Professional FC
Hyundai Horang-i (1984–1995)
Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i (1996–1998)
Ulsan Hyundai Horangi (1999–2007)
Ulsan Hyundai (2008–present)
Hyundai Motor Company in Hyundai Group (1984–1997)
Hyundai Heavy Industries in Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (1998–present)
Inauguration Date – 6 December 1983
Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso (1984–1990)
LG Cheetahs (1991–1995)
Anyang LG Cheetahs (1996–2003)
FC Seoul (2004–present)
LG Group (1984–2004)
GS Group[2] (2004.06–present)
Inauguration Date – 22 December 1983
Hanil Bank FC (1984–1986) Hanil Bank[3] Played as a Semi-Professional FC
Ilhwa Chunma (1989–1995)
Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma (1996–1999)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (2000–2013)
Seongnam FC (2014–present)
Ilhwa in Tongil Group (1989–2013)
Government of Seongnam
Citizen Stockholder (2014–present)
Inauguration Date – 18 March 1989
Chonbuk Buffalo (1994) Bobae Soju (1994) Inauguration Date – 1993
Dissolution Date – 1994
Chonbuk Dinos (1995–1996)
Chonbuk Hyundai Dinos (1997–1999)
Chonbuk Hyundai Motors (2000–2005)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (2006–present)
Consortium of Hyunyang and Hyundai Motor Company in Hyundai Group (1995–1999.05)
Hyundai Motor Company in Hyundai Motor Group (1999.05–present)
Inauguration Date – 12 December 1994
Chunnam Dragons (1995–2013)
Jeonnam Dragons (2014–present)
POSCO Inauguration Date – 16 December 1994
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (1996–present) Samsung Electronics in Samsung Group (1996–2014.03)
Cheil Worldwide in Samsung Group (2014.04-present)
Samsung Electronics Inauguration Date – 15 December 1995
Taejon Citizen (1997–2002)
Daejeon Citizen (2003–present)
Government of Daejeon
Citizen Stockholder
Hana Bank Inauguration Date – 12 March 1997
Daegu FC (2003–present) Government of Daegu
Citizen Stockholder
Daegu Bank Inauguration Date – 19 March 2003
Incheon United (2004–present) Government of Incheon
Citizen Stockholder
Shinhan Bank
Incheon International Airport
Inauguration Date – 1 March 2004
Gyeongnam FC (2006–present) Government of Gyeongsangnam-do
Citizen Stockholder
Gyeongnam Bank
Inauguration Date – 17 January 2006
Gangwon FC (2009–present) Government of Gangwon-do
Citizen Stockholder
High1 Resort Inauguration Date – 18 December 2008
Gwangju FC (2011–present) Government of Gwangju
Citizen Stockholder
Gwangju Bank Inauguration Date – 16 December 2010
Sangju Sangmu Phoenix (2011–2012)
Sangju Sangmu (2013–present)
Government of Sangju
Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps
Inauguration Date – 26 February 2011
Police FC (2013)
Ansan Police FC (2014–present)
Government of Ansan
Moogoonghwa Athletic Club in Korean National Police University
Founded as a Semi-Professional FC 29 March 1996
Transferred into a Professional FC and
joined K League Challenge in 2013
Goyang Hi FC (2013–present) Founded as a Semi-Professional FC in 1999
Transferred into a Professional FC and
joined K League Challenge in 2013
Chungju Hummel (2013–present) Hummel Korea Founded as a Semi-Professional FC 9 December 1999
Transferred into a Professional FC and
joined K League Challenge in 2013
Suwon FC (2013–present) Government of Suwon
Citizen Stockholder
Founded as a Semi-Professional FC 15 March 2003
Transferred into a Professional FC in 2013
Joined K League Challenge
Bucheon FC 1995 (2013–present) Government of Bucheon
Citizen Stockholder
Founded as Amateur FC on 1 December 2007
Transferred into a Professional FC and
joined K League Challenge in 2013
FC Anyang (2013–present) Government of Anyang
Citizen Stockholder
Inauguration Date – 2 February 2013
Joined K League Challenge in 2013
Seoul E-Land FC (2015–present) E-Land Group Inauguration Date – 22 August 2014
Joined K League Challenge in 2015

[1] Yukong renamed to SK Energy
[2] GS Group is separated from LG Group
[3] Hanil Bank is merged by Woori Bank
Note : Horang-i means tiger, Hwangso means bull, Chunma means pegasus, Bulsajo means phoenix.


  • For details on K League Champions, see List of K League champions.
  • Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the most successful club in terms of championship victories, having lifted the title on no less than seven occasions.
    The roll-call of champions is as follows (present-date names included where teams have changed names previously):
  • K League's principle of official statistics is that final club succeeds to predecessor club's history & records.

Titles By Season[edit]

K League Classic (1983–present)[edit]

Season Champions Runners-up
1983 Hallelujah FC Daewoo Royals
1984 Daewoo Royals Yukong Elephants
1985 Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso POSCO Atoms
1986 POSCO Atoms Luck-Goldstar Hwangso
1987 Daewoo Royals POSCO Atoms
1988 POSCO Atoms Hyundai Horang-i
1989 Yukong Elephants Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso
1990 Lucky-Goldstar Hwangso Daewoo Royals
1991 Daewoo Royals Hyundai Horang-i
1992 POSCO Atoms Ilhwa Chunma
1993 Ilhwa Chunma LG Cheetahs
1994 Ilhwa Chunma Yukong Elephants
1995 Ilhwa Chunma Pohang Atoms
1996 Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Suwon Samsung Bluewings
1997 Pusan Daewoo Royals Chunnam Dragons
1998 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
1999 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Pusan Daewoo Royals


Season Champions Runners-up
2000 Anyang LG Cheetahs Bucheon SK
2001 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Anyang LG Cheetahs
2002 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
2003 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i
2004 Suwon Samsung Bluewings Pohang Steelers
2005 Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i Incheon United
2006 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Suwon Samsung Bluewings
2007 Pohang Steelers Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2008 Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC Seoul
2009 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2010 FC Seoul Jeju United
2011 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Ulsan Hyundai
2012 FC Seoul Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
2013 Pohang Steelers Ulsan Hyundai
2014 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Suwon Samsung Bluewings
2015 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

K League Challenge (2013–present)[edit]

Season Champions Runners-up
2013 Sangju Sangmu Police FC
2014 Daejeon Citizen Gwangju FC
2015 Sangju Sangmu

Titles By Club[edit]

Top Division[edit]

Club Champions Runners-up Winning Seasons Runners-up Seasons
Seongnam FC
1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 1992, 2007, 2009
FC Seoul
1985, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2012 1986, 1989, 1993, 2001, 2008
Pohang Steelers
1986, 1988, 1992, 2007, 2013 1985, 1987, 1995, 2004
Busan IPark
1984, 1987, 1991, 1997 1983, 1990, 1999
Suwon Samsung Bluewings
1998, 1999, 2004, 2008 1996, 2006, 2014
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 2012
Ulsan Hyundai
1996, 2005 1988, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2011, 2013
Jeju United
1989 1984, 1994, 2000, 2010
Hallelujah FC
Jeonnam Dragons
Incheon United