The K League 1 (formerly known as the K League Classic) is the top tier of professional football in South Korea. This coming 2018 season will be interesting as we have a clear favorite for the title in Jeonbuk Hyundai and a more obvious split between the haves at the top and have nots at the bottom.

Briefly to explain the K League 1 sits at the top of the South Korea Football Pyramid. The top 2 sides currently qualify directly to the AFC Champions League (ACL) and the 3rd placed side enters the playoffs. Currently there are is one direct relegation spot and a promotion-relegation playoff spot from the league. 12 sides will compete in the 2018 season.
The only change from last season is that Gyeongnam were promoted as champions Challenge (K League 2) and Gwangju were relegated.

(For the K League 2 Preview & Prediction CLICK HERE)

K League 1 Prediction

The title race on paper at least should be a one horse race with Jeonbuk Hyundai being the clear favorites. However don’t forget Leicester City shocked the world to win the Premier League so stranger things have happened.

Then in the Champions League spots (including playoff) we have Suwon Bluewings and Ulsan Hyundai, both sides look as strong as last season and therefore should be in the title picture.

4th to 6th are the maybe sides; Jeju United, FC Seoul and Pohang Steelers. They’ve all lost key players and time will tell if they’ll be dangerous this season.

7 to 9th we have another group of maybe sides; Gangwon, Daegu & recently promoted Gyeongnam. On paper they like solid, but all three lack fan bases to push them above the top half. They also could be in danger of dropping into the relegation battle.

Finally 10th to 12th aka the Danger Zone. We have Incheon United, Sangju Sangmu & Jeonnam Dragons. Realistically these 3 sides are the favorites to go down and interchangeable at the bottom. A good run of form maybe enough to buy them another season, however all three seem to do in for long hard seasons.

K League 1 Preview

This is a more general preview, adding onto the prediction above.

The 2017 season on the whole was OK, it went on for a little too long and with 3 of the 4 K League sides crashing out of the ACL there wasn’t much else to focus on. Attendances were down 17% compered to the 2016 season, with only 1 game bringing in over 30,000 (the open day of the season Super Match). Plus the failed introduction of VAR.

So the 2018 doesn’t have much to build on, but that maybe a good thing. Expectations are low and therefore some club can gain natural support by playing attacking exciting football. Basic be a Daegu not an Incheon.

Overall hopes aren’t high on a close title race, but the relegation and ACL spot battles could be interesting. Fingers crossed at least the season is better than just OK.

Opening Weekend of the K League 1 season (which also includes the National Holiday on Thursday March 1st);

Key Links for the K League 1

Here are a few useful links for getting the most from the K League 1 this coming season;

K League United

K League Kilt

Tavern of the Taeguk Warriors

48 Shades of Football

Soccerway (K League 2 Page)

K League Website

Anymore let me know…


Any thoughts, comments or questions. Feel free to comment below or message me via Twitter.