This season, the K League 1 continues to be a box office sensation.
With 1,837,901 fans in 176 games, the league set a new record for the largest single-season attendance since professional soccer began tracking paid attendance in 2018. It surpassed the 2019 season’s 1,827,661 (228 games – 8013 average). With plenty of games left to go, it’s not out of the question that the league will break the 2 million mark for the first time ever, as well as the era of 10,000 average attendance. There are many reasons for the box office surge, but number one is the games. This season’s K League 1 has been captivating fans with more entertaining matches than ever before.
Speaking of ‘honey jam’ matches, we can’t forget Daejeon Hana Citizen. Daejeon, which was promoted this season, has been producing unusually entertaining matches. It has produced numerous “honey jam matches,” including one of the best matches of the season, a 2-1 victory over Ulsan Hyundai in April, which was hailed as an “EPL-level match. There have been three 4-3 matches and 13 matches with four or more goals scored by both teams. There was even a 5-3 game with eight goals (Suwon FC in April). Despite not always winning, the matches have been entertaining to watch. Fans have responded with entertaining matches. Compared to 2022, Daejeon saw a whopping 496% increase in attendance. So far, Daejeon has attracted 185,996 fans and is ranked fourth in the K League in terms of attendance. It’s the return of the ‘soccer special city’.
At the center of it all is head coach Lee Min-sung. Lee has brought Daejeon back to the K League 1 with his fiery attacking soccer. Lee has turned Daejeon into one of the most dynamic teams in the K League 1 with his bold forward pressure and quick transitions. With 44 goals, Daejeon is the fourth highest scoring team in the league this season. Lee Min-seong-sik’s attacking soccer is even stronger against stronger teams. Daejeon drew 1-1 with Ulsan Hyundai on Nov. 16. The result brings their season record to 1-2-2. Daejeon is the only team Ulsan hasn’t beaten this season. Daejeon also holds a 1-0 advantage over fellow ‘modernization’ team Jeonbuk Hyundai. They also beat FC Seoul 2-1. They also beat Suwon Samsung. This is the first time Daejeon has beaten Ulsan, Jeonbuk, Seoul, and Suwon all in one season 굿모닝토토.
Not just the results, but the content. Daejeon played a bold attacking soccer that didn’t back down against the big boys. Of course, there is a defensive burden, but Lee shouted ‘attack forward’. Lee usually tells his players to “play like a madman” to maximize their aggression and mobility. This is why Daejeon’s games are often characterized by fierce battles. In their first year of promotion, Daejeon created a distinct brand of offense. In his first year in K League 1, Lee had his fair share of trial and error, but he’s evolved with each game and isn’t making the same mistakes.
Lee will reportedly stay with Daejeon next season. With the addition of a specialist defensive midfielder and a top-notch center back, there’s a lot to look forward to next season. A trip to Final A would be a “complete success,” but branding as a “honey jam maker” is already a “half success” for Daejeon this season.