A total of 252 players in the nation's top pro football competition are eligible for free agency this offseason, the league office said Wednesday.
The K League said 270 players will see their contracts expire at the end of this year, but four will serve in the military in 2017 and 14 others didn't qualify for free agency because they failed to play in at least half of their clubs' matches.
Former Arsenal and AS Monaco man Park Chu-young headlines the list. The 31-year-old forward has been playing with FC Seoul since he returned to the top flight K League Classic in 2015. He scored 10 goals in the first division this past season and helped Seoul to win the league championship.
The list also features veteran defender Kim Hyung-il, who was pivotal in Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' title run at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, and Hyun Young-min, the only active player from the 2002 South Korean World Cup team that reached the semifinals.
These free agents may only negotiate with their original clubs until Dec. 31. If they fail to reach an agreement, then they can open talks with other clubs from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2017.
Free agents who fail to land contracts by the end of February will be ruled ineligible for the 2017 season.
Following the rule adopted in 2013, a club that signs a free agent must pay the player's previous club twice the amount of the player's 2016 salary. However, this rule only applies to players under the age of 32 as well as those who joined the K League after 2005 and were registered as a player for the last two seasons. The league said 71 players fall in that category this offseason.
I'm curious how many players end up essentially banned from the K League for a season due to not signing a contract with a club by the end of February.