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2018 K League season will kick off on March 1

Korea’s top-tier pro football league will begin its 2018 season on March 1, an official from the league office said Friday.

The official said that four K League Classic clubs that will compete at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League will start their domestic league campaign on March 1, three days ahead of their original schedule.

Defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and the reigning Korea Football Association Cup winners Ulsan Hyundai will officially open the 2018 season, while the 2017 runners-up Jeju United and third place Suwon Samsung Bluewings also kick off their season on March 1, which is a national holiday that commemorates Korea’s independence movement in 1919 during Japanese colonial rule.

The K League said eight other clubs in the Classic will have their league openers on March 3 and 4.

The four clubs - Jeonbuk, Ulsan, Jeju and Suwon - are scheduled to have their AFC Champions League matches on March 6 and 7. The league office said it decided to change their league schedule, so that the four clubs can have enough time to prepare for their continental club tournament matches.

Gangwon FC works to sign Lee Chung-yong from EPL

The president of Korean pro football club Gangwon said Friday they’re currently working to sign midfielder Lee Chung-yong from English Premier League (EPL) side Crystal Palace.

Gangwon CEO Cho Tae-yong said his club’s winter transfer target includes Lee and other players in Europe.

“It’s true that we’re working to sign Lee,” Cho said to Yonhap News Agency in a phone interview. “We can’t reveal any details, but we’ll work hard to land the deal.”

Lee, 29, is contracted through June 2018 with Palace, but is having another disappointing season with the London-based club. This season, he has played only five matches.

The former Bolton Wanderers player, who joined Palace in 2015, last season made 20 appearances in all competitions. If Lee, who has eight goals in 78 matches for Korea, signs with Gangwon, he will return to the K League for the first time since 2009.

“Lee’s experience and talent will make us better,” Cho said.

Gangwon made a splash ahead of the 2017 season after signing slew of local big names. Their recruitment included the 2016 season MVP Jung Jo-gook and former Asian Footballer of the Year Lee Keun-ho.

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