Busy January sees more Korean players move to Europe
The January transfer window closed earlier this week with a number of Korean players making moves in Europe.
The biggest move was made by Wolverhampton Wanderers' forward Hwang Hee-chan, who signed a four-year deal valued at £14 million ($19 million) to make his tenure at the club permanent.
Wolves announced the signing on Jan. 26, announcing that the club had activated a clause to make his existing loan from RB Leipzig permanent later this year.
The move came as something of a surprise, as although manager Bruno Lage has made it clear that he wants Hwang to become a permanent fixture at the club, a recent hamstring injury that took the Korean striker out for the last month was expected to delay that move to the summer.
By activating the clause, Wolves have committed to signing Hwang on a four-year contract this summer. The deal, for which both personal terms and the club fee were agreed last year, won't actually go through until the summer, presumably putting Hwang with the club until the end of the 2025-26 season.
Wolves apparently were not happy with just Hwang on the book, following up the signing two days later with a deal to bring 19-year-old forward Jeong Sang-bin to Wolverhampton from Suwon Samsung Bluewings for an undisclosed fee.
Jeong, known as the "Korean Mbappe" started his professional career with a bang last year, scoring six goals and picking up two assists for the Bluewings and scoring in his senior national team debut.
Jeong was immediately loaned out to Grasshopper Club Zürich rather than joining Wolves. The two clubs have close ties, with former Wolves board member Sky Sun taking over as president of Grasshopper last season and a number of other key Wolves staff moving to the Swiss club.
The final major Korean move of the January transfer window saw Lee Dong-jun briefly leave the national team last week to undergo a medal and sign with German club Hertha Berlin.
Lee, a versatile forward who can play on the wing or up front, left Ulsan Hyundai for Berlin on a three-year deal reportedly valued around 1 million euros ($1.1 million). The move was reportedly possible because Lee had joined Ulsan on a contract that included a buy-out clause if a European club made an offer for him.
Lee isn't the only Ulsan player to move to Germany, with 24-year-old Lee Dong-gyeong joining Bundesliga 2 club Schalke 04 on loan.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]