Japan-born North Korean forward to play for Suwon

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Japan-born North Korean forward to play for Suwon

Korean pro football club Suwon FC said Thursday it has signed Japan-born North Korean forward An Byong-jun.

Suwon FC said An will play in the K League 2, the second division football league in South Korea, after completing his transfer from Japanese side Roasso Kumamoto.

“An is an experienced forward who played more than 100 matches in Japan,” Suwon said. “He is also a versatile player, so we believe he can help the team.”

An is a “Zainichi” - an ethnic Korean resident in Japan - who was born in Tokyo. He has represented North Korea internationally, playing at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in a North Korean jersey. The 28-year-old also had eight caps with the North Korean senior national football team from 2011 to 2017.

An made his pro debut with Kawasaki Frontale in the J1 League in 2013. He has 20 goals in 101 J League matches.

“I feel great to have a career in my grandfather’s homeland,” he said. “I know that the K League and the J League have differences, but I will work hard to score goals and get assists.”

An will be the third North Korean national team player to compete in the South Korean league. Ryang Kyu-sa was the first, after signing with Ulsan Hyundai FC in 2001, followed by An Yong-hak with Busan IPark FC in 2006 and Jong Tae-se with Suwon Samsung Bluewings in 2013.

The K League doesn’t classify Korean residents from overseas as foreigners.

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