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Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:15 pm
by Holyjoe
This was a feature on the main site, but seeing as a bunch of players recently held a reunion then it gives me an excuse to put a couple of pictures up too :)

This was the Yangzee team pictured at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Seoul in 1967:

Back row (L~R): Heo Yoon-jung, Park Kwang-jo, Kang Su-kil, Kim Ki-bok, Lee Se-yeon, Bae Geum-su, Jung Byung-tak, Jo Jung-soo, Park Il-kap
Front row (L~R): Kim Jung-nam, Seo Yoon-chan, Kim Sam-rak, Hong Kyung-ku, Lee Hwi-taek, Lim Kuk-chan, Lee Young-keun, Jung Gang-ji

The members who attended the reunion event earlier this month in Seoul (a couple of others were out of the country, ex-Yangzee players Park I-cheon and Kim Jung-nam were busy with Incheon United and Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i respectively, and both Kang Su-kil and Hong Kyung-gu have passed away).

Back row (L~R): Oh In-bok, Choi Jae-mo, Kim Sam-rak, Kim Ho, Jo Jung-su, Jung Byung-tak, Heo Yoon-jung
Front row (L~R): Park Su-il, Lee Young-keun, Lee Hwi-taek, Lee Eui-jae (journalist), Seo Yoon-chan

Secret Soccer - The Story Of Yangzee FC

Generally considered the greatest upset in World Cup history, North Korea's 1-0 win over Italy in the 1966 tournament in England and their subsequent run to the quarter-finals gained international headlines for Asian football like no event had ever managed before. That the North Koreans were able to take part in the tournament at all was fortuitous, as a mass qualifying boycott by African, Oceania and Asian sides over the allocation of just one spot in the tournament for the three confederations combined left only North Korea and Australia vying for the single ticket. Despite pressure at government level from Australia and the United Kingdom, the North Koreans eventually won their way through to the World Cup and went on to create history.

By contrast South Korea could only watch on from home as the eyes of the world were on the North's footballers. Having made one previous appearance in the World Cup finals in 1954, where they lost 9-0 to Hungary and 7-0 to Turkey, South Korea missed out on qualification to the 1962 tournament after they were crushed 8-2 on aggregate in a playoff against Yugoslavia. Despite having been a strong force in Asian football during the early 1960s, and having won the first and second editions of the Asian Cup tournament in 1960 and 1964, they were upstaged by North Korea's feats in England in 1966 and, in the political climate of the time, the situation wasn't acceptable to the South Korean government.

In light of how the international media reported on North Korea's exploits, President Park Chung-hee demanded the South should be in a position to compete with North Korea in the international sporting arena. In February 1967 Kim Hyung-wook, then head of the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency, sanctioned the creation of a football club charged with aiding the South Korean government in taking on the North Korean "puppet regime", and recruited a number of prominent Korean football players for the club. Players such as Lee Se-yeon, Kim Ho, Kim Jung-nam, Jo Jung-su, Seo Yoon-chan, Heo Yoon-jung, Jung Byung-tak, Kim Sam-rak, Lee Hwi-taek and Lim Kuk-chan were amongst the names brought in to populate the squad.

Former Korean national team striker Choi Jung-min, who had represented South Korea in the 1954 World Cup finals, was recruited to coach the newly-founded team. The name "Yangzee", or "sunlit land", came from the Central Intelligence Agency's motto "We work in the dark to protect the sunlit land". Training conditions were harsh for the players, whose participation with the club took the place of regular military service duties and brought with it a monthly allowance of 25,000 won. Lavish bonuses were offered to the players by director Kim to motivate the players in training and on the pitch. The players lodged together in dormitories at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, and trained daily on immaculately tended grass pitches. Although they trained and lived under extremely strict conditions with numerous restrictions and continual surveillance on their free time, the players would eat the highest quality food daily as no expense was spared to get the players into optimum condition. Training typically began at 6am with one hour of running followed by a multitude of other exercises designed to strengthen the mental resolve of the players.

By mid-1967, Yangzee were the principal suppliers of players to the national team, with one July training squad of 23 players containing no fewer than eleven Yangzee squad members. Domestically the football scene at the time consisted of teams from the various military branches as well as university and works sides. In 1968 Yangzee demonstrated their dominance in Korea by claiming victory in the two major football competitions of the year, the Amateur Football Conference and the 16th edition of the President's Cup, the latter clinched with victory over a Jeil Fabric works side that had been a dominant force in both competitions during the mid-1960s.

In January 1969 the club represented Korea in the second edition of the Asian Champions' Cup tournament held in Bangkok. Initially grouped with Indian side Mysore State, Philippines club Manila Lions, and the South Vietnam Police and Bangkok Bank teams, Yangzee recorded four straight wins to top their group and advance to the semi-finals. Japanese works side Toyo Kogyo (now Sanfrecce Hiroshima) were dispatched 2-0 to set up a final appearance against Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. The final, on January 30th in Bangkok, saw Yangzee go down by a single goal to the Israelis.

Later that same year, after learning that North Korean players underwent extensive training camps in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency sent its squad on an overseas training program which saw the club spend 105 days in Europe touring East Germany, France, Switzerland and Greece. The fame of the North Korean World Cup side caught up with the Yangzee players on their travels though as they were frequently mistaken for the North Korean national team, a fact that motivated the players to demonstrate they had the ability to more than match those feats. The team returned from the trip with the creditable record of 18 wins, two draws and six defeats from the 26 matches played.

Despite the continued existence of the club with the stated aim of taking on and bettering the North Koreans, the political climate of the late 1960s moved towards a reconciliatory atmosphere between the two Koreas, and the focus of rivalry had shifted to Japan. In late 1969, by the time of a World Cup qualifier at Dongdaemun Stadium against the Japanese, Kim Hyung-wook attempted to re-focus the Yangzee players' energies on bettering their East Sea rivals. The day before the October 12th tie against Japan, Kim approached the Yangzee members of the South Korean squad with the offer of financial incentives to claim victory. The match finished 2-2, and the second match-up of the two countries in the qualification series on October 18th saw Kim enter the locker room at half-time to further encourage the squad members on their way to a 2-0 victory.

Whilst keeping up appearances to the contrary, Kim Hyung-wook's grip on power at the Central Intelligence Agency was waning and his departure from the position as director on October 20th saw support for and interest in the football club within the corridors of power greatly diminish. The team was officially dissolved on March 17th 1970 after just three years in existence, bringing to an end a curious chapter of a Cold War rivalry.

Results of matches are rather hard to come by, but these are their 1969 Asian Champions' Cup results from RSSSF.

Code: Select all

Group A ([i]in Bangkok, January 1969[/i])
15- 1 Bangkok Bank             Tha  Vietnam Police           SVi   1-1
15- 1 Yangzee                  SKo  Mysore State             Ind   5-0
17- 1 Vietnam Police           SVi  Manila Lions             Phi   7-0
19- 1 Mysore State             Ind  Bangkok Bank             Tha   1-1
20- 1 Yangzee                  SKo  Manila Lions             Phi   7-0
21- 1 Mysore State             Ind  Vietnam Police           SVi   2-1
22- 1 Yangzee                  SKo  Bangkok Bank             Tha   1-0
23- 1 Mysore State             Ind  Manila Lions             Phi   2-1
24- 1 Yangzee                  SKo  Vietnam Police           SVi   4-1
26- 1 Bangkok Bank             Tha  Manila Lions             Phi   4-0

 1.Yangzee                         4  4  0  0 17- 1  8
 2.Mysore State                    4  2  1  1  5- 8  5
 3.Bangkok Bank                    4  1  2  1  6- 3  4
 4.Vietnam Police                  4  1  1  2 10- 7  3
 5.Manila Lions                    4  0  0  4  1-20  0

Semifinals ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 28[/i])
Maccabi Tel Aviv         Isr  Mysore State             Ind   6-1
Yangzee                  SKo  Toyo Kogyo               Jap   2-0

Third Place Match ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 30[/i])
Toyo Kogyo               Jap  Mysore State             Ind   2-0

Final ([i]in Bangkok, Jan 30[/i])
Maccabi Tel Aviv         Isr  Yangzee                  SKo   1-0

Posted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 1:03 pm
by just because
I saw something on TV about this before...
It was a korean program so i can't remember the name but it must be out there somewhere...

Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:53 am
by Holyjoe
just because wrote:I saw something on TV about this before...
It was a korean program so i can't remember the name but it must be out there somewhere...

Yeah, I saw the last few minutes of it a few months ago and recently tracked it down as a production for the Korean 'History Channel', so I'll be seeing if I can get hold of it from them.

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:49 pm
by Holyjoe
Perhaps of minimal interest to many, but a number of the Yangzee players were invited by Hana Bank as special guests to the bore draw against North Korea last night.

Lee Hwi-taek, Kim Jung-nam, Jo Jung-su, Kim Ki-bok, Kim Sam-rak and Park I-cheon were all in attendance. Kim Ho had to give it a miss as he was busy with Daejeon Citizen.

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:19 pm
by Holyjoe
Again one for the hardcore Korean football history buffs (umm...), the surviving members of the Yangzee squad are getting together to play a National Intelligence Service select side in a friendly match on September 12th in Seoul. The Yanzee 모임 started having regular reunions as of 2003, and they (along with the whole of Korean football) are planning on having a number of events over the coming months as next year marks what would have been the 100th birthday of the original Korean football legend Kim Yong-sik, who was himself a manager of Yangzee at one point.

A bunch of 60-70 year-old former professionals huffing and puffing around a football pitch against a group of government office workers? I'd go...

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:58 pm
by MipoFanatic

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 5:30 pm
by eujin
I take it Yangzee aren't in the book then?

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 3:05 pm
by MipoFanatic
Heheh, they'll be in the book- I'm just winding up HolyJoe. The truth is that I'm almost just as much of an historical anorak and sad statto as he is! :study:

Re: Yangzee Football Club

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 6:24 am
by Holyjoe
Bump, with some more tidbits relating to Yangzee featuring in this great Joongang Daily piece on Lee Hoi-taek:

In the annals of Korean football, he’s led the way on and off the pitch
June 03, 2015

When talking about Korea’s top forwards, football fans often mention Cha Bum-kun, Choi Soon-ho, Hwang Sun-hong and Lee Dong-gook, among others. But one player never gets left out.

While Cha, who ruled the Korean game in the late 1970s and 1980s, is regarded as the best forward ever, preceding him was Lee Hoi-taik, widely seen as the top player in the late 1960s and 1970s for his trademark quickness and powerful shot.

While Lee, who was born in 1946, stands squarely at the center of Korean football history, earning nicknames like “soldier of fortune,” “panther on the pitch” and “man of justice,” his childhood was bleak.

During the Korean War, Lee’s father went to North Korea and never came back, and his mother remarried when he was six. After his mother and stepfather abandoned him, Lee was raised by his grandmother.

Lee recalls he enjoyed playing football with friends in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, and he briefly participated in gymnastics in middle school.

“When I was young, it was just after the Korean War and there wasn’t really anything to play,” Lee said in an interview with Korea Football Association (KFA) in 2010. “In Gimpo, none of the schools had a football club. So I just joined adults and young people for games in the village.”

In 1962, he formed a private football club at Gimpo Agriculture High School. To learn the sport more formally, however, Lee decided to attend a high school in Seoul that had a football team in 1963.

His first choice was Hanyang Technical High School, where he failed to make the team after a week’s training. Lee was later admitted to Yeungdeungpo High School and played football there for about five months, which included his impressive debut at the National High School Football Championship where he scored both of his team’s goals in a 2-1 victory over Busan Commercial High School.

The performance was enough to catch the eye of Dongbuk High School coach Park Byung-suk, and Lee joined the country’s top football school in August 1963 as a freshman.

There, Lee stepped up as the top prospect in the nation, along with senior forward Kim Ki-bok, sweeping national football competitions.

In 1965, Lee was selected for the U-20 national team.

By the time Lee graduated, top universities were competing for his talents. He first chose Sungkyunkwan University to rejoin his former Dongbuk High School coach Park, but Lee quit after just two months to play for Yonsei University.

While waiting to join Yonsei the following year, Lee briefly played for the Korea Coal Corporation team and made his national team debut in October 1966 at the Asian Games in Bangkok, where Korea failed to win a medal.

In February 1967, the unthinkable happened. Just a few weeks before he was to be admitted to Yonsei, two men wearing suits approached him during a practice session and escorted him to their black Jeep. It turned out they were with the South Korean Central Intelligence Agency and wanted Lee to play for the agency’s club, Yangzee FC.

Shocked that North Korea reached the quarterfinals of the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, President Park Chung Hee ordered KCIA chief Kim Hyung-wook to create a football team that would raise the level of the sport in South Korea. Playing for the team was regarded as fulfilling the mandatory military service requirement.

As the de facto Korean national football team, the squad trained overseas, which was unheard of at the time. Lee reached his prime with Yangzee FC, winning various national and international competitions like the Merdeka Tournament, Asia’s oldest football event, in Malaysia. Lee won the top player award in the 1967 Merdeka Tournament and was picked as the Asia All-Star.

Yet the 167-centimeter (5-foot-6) forward remembers it as the time in his career that he most regrets. Yangzee FC players had salaries comparable to those of high-ranking government officials, and the young Lee lost his competitive drive.

“After I achieved my goals of becoming a national team player and the top player in Asia, it made me feel there was nothing left to work for,” he said. “By 1968, my life was half football and half playing with other things. To this day, I regret my behavior during that time because if I would have worked harder, I could have been a better player.”

Still, trophies followed wherever Lee played. In 1969, he won the King’s Cup tournament and the following year the Merdeka Tournament and Asian Games in Bangkok.

After finishing his military duty with Yangzee FC, which was disbanded in 1970, Lee joined Hanyang University four years after his high school graduation.

Lee then won the 1971 and 1974 Park’s Cup and Merdeka Tournament. However, he never played in major tournaments as Korea failed to qualify for the 1968 Summer Olympic Games and the 1970 FIFA World Cup, both in Mexico.

“The 1968 Olympic Asian qualifier against Japan, which we drew, 3-3, remains my biggest disappointment to this day,” he said.

Injuries and waning motivation led Lee to end his national team career in 1974, although he briefly rejoined the squad in 1977 for the 1978 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

Lee ended his national team career with 21 goals in 75 matches. Many observers, however, believe Lee scored many more than that because not all early national team matches were tracked as they are today.

After playing with the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (now Posco) football team for a while, he hung up his cleats for good in 1979.

Lee’s career continued to shine after his playing days were over.

After coaching Hanyang University, he joined the K-League in 1986 as interim coach of the Pohang Atoms (now Pohang Steelers) and led the team to the championship. He was promoted to coach in 1987 and the Steelers won the K-League championship again the following year.

In 1989, Lee was named to coach the national team, where he worked with other legendary players like Hwang Sun-hong and Hong Myung-bo, while leading the team to the 1990 FIFA World Cup. However, Korea lost all its games against Belgium, Spain and Uruguay in the group qualifier.

Lee recalled the failure in the 1990 FIFA World Cup as the hardest moment in his life, as he said he would never again take national team coaching job, even in his next life.

However, that year was not all disappointments for Lee, who was reunited with his father in North Korea after attending a friendly match in Pyongyang.

After coaching the Jeonnam Dragons in the K-League from 1998 to 2003, Lee devoted himself to being an administrator in the KFA, serving as vice chairman from 2004-13 and head of the technical committee from 2004-5 and 2008-11.

During his time as technical committee chief, Korea reached the quarterfinals in the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the Round of 16 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and finished third in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.

In 2005, he was among the first seven inductees into the Korean Football Hall of the Fame.

After quitting all of roles in the KFA, he became the first chairman of the Korea Football Labor Union last year, helping boost welfare benefits and improve the environment for football players.

“I was a beloved footballer to many, so it’s time for me to pass that love to young players,” he said last August at the inaugural ceremony of the union.