South Korean football league system

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The South Korean football league system contains two professional leagues, three semi-professional leagues and amateur leagues for Korean football clubs.

The highest level of football in South Korea is the K League 1 which was founded in 1983. K League 2 was founded in 2013 and is currently a second division. Below the level of the professional leagues is the semi-professional National League, which serves as the third division. The semi-professional K3 League, which is being considered the fourth division, was added to the setup in 2007.

National League and K3 League are called the third division and the fourth division for convenience, but they are disrelated and individual leagues.

There was no avenue for progression between any of the leagues until 2012, when the K League 2 was founded.

System by period[edit]

Korea Semi-Professional Football League was a semi-professional football league between corporate teams in South Korea from 1964 to 2002. In 1983, with the establishment of K League, Korea Semi-Professional Football League became the second tier and remained until 2002 before Korea National League, at that time called K2 League, was officially founded in 2003. K League 2 was created in 2013. Fourth tier K3 League was founded in 2007, and renamed to K3 League Advanced in 2017. Fifth tier K3 League Basic for semi-professional league and Division-7 League for amateur league were founded in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, the upper amateur leagues, Division-6 League and Division-5 League, were established, respectively. By 2020, the Korea National League will be absorbed into the K League or K3 League.

Season Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5 Tier 6 Tier 7 Tier 8
1964–1982 Korea Semi-Professional
Football League
1983–2002 K League Korea Semi-Professional
Football League
2003–2006 Korea National League
2007–2012 K3 League
2013–2016 K League 1 K League 2 Korea National League K3 League
2017 K3 League Advanced K3 League Basic Division-7 League
2018 Division-6 League Division-7 League
2019– K5 League K6 League K7 League

Current system[edit]

The K League was created in 1983 and remained the only officially organized league competition in the country until the creation of the National League in 2003. The K3 League was created in 2007, and divided into two leagues starting from 2017.

* As of 2019 season
Level League / Division
1 K League 1
12 clubs
↓ 1 relegation spot + 1 relegation playoff spot
2 K League 2
10 clubs
↑ 1 promotion spot + 1 promotion playoff spot
3 Korea National League
8 clubs
No promotion/relegation
4 K3 League Advanced
12 clubs
↓ 2 relegation spots + 1 relegation playoff spot
5 K3 League Basic
8 clubs
↑ 2 promotion spots + 1 promotion playoff spot
No relegation
6 K5 League
67 clubs / 11 regions
No promotion
↓ 11 relegation sports
7 K6 League
190 clubs / 26 regions
↑ 11 promotion spot
↓ 30 relegation sports
8 K7 League
1002 clubs / 160 regions
↑ 30 promotion spot

Below this league structure there are many amateur, university and youth level competitions at varying levels. From 2008, the U-League, a league competition for university football clubs, will begin though it is likely to remain completely independent from the league structure above.

Cup eligibility[edit]

Domestic cups[edit]

All K League and National League sides qualify for the Korean FA Cup tournament. The top four sides from the K3 League Advanced gained qualification to the next season's FA Cup tournament. Additional qualifiers come from amateur and university level.

The League Cup competition is open to K League teams only, whilst sides from the National League can compete in the National Championship. From 2011, Challengers Cup competition is open to Challengers League teams.

Continental competition[edit]

At present, four South Korean sides qualify automatically for the AFC Champions League. Three top teams from K League 1 automatically gains entry to the AFC Champions League. The Korean FA Cup winners also qualify for the AFC Champions League only. However, if the champions of Korean FA Cup are not members of K League, the fourth placed team of the K League Classic receive the entry spot.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]