East Asia Korea

Busan IPark returns to K League 1… Can football regain its popularity in Busan?

Written by Youngsub Lee

Football Tribe Korea

Busan IPark have returned to K League 1. It took four years and three trials (play-off) for them to return to the first division since their relegation in 2015.

Last Sunday, K League 2 runner-up, Busan traveled to Changwon Football Center to face 11th-placed (K League 1) Gyeongnam FC for the second leg of the play-off.

Backed by 1,000 traveling fans, the visitors secured two crucial goals in the second half to confirm their promotion. Meanwhile, the play-off counterpart, Gyeongnam FC dropped to K League 2 just two seasons after their promotion in 2017.

Throughout the season, ex-Brazil U-23 player, Rômulo José Pacheco da Silva netted 14 important goals whilst his colleague, Lee Jeong-hyeop scored a goal less than him.

After the game, Busan’s manager, Cho Deok-je commented: “I do not know what to say. Players did their best. Our fans have been suffering the past three years and I was fortunate to finally reward them. Thanks for supporting us throughout the season”.

It is not his first time promoting a second-division club. Ironically, he had led Suwon FC (currently in K League 2) to promotion in 2015 by pulling Busan out.

It is expected football will regain its popularity in Busan since the golden days in the 1990s. Aside from the club’s promotion, BFA (Busan Football Association) has taken various measures to promote football such as: Hosting international matches that include the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship.

The four-time K League 1 champion has finally returned. It now lies on them to color the rest of the story. Will they reclaim their fame as the once, title contender?