I don't think the AFC have clarified what will happen if the team that wins the ACL fail to qualify for the following year's tournament through their domestic competitions - since moving to a 32-team tournament both Gamba Osaka (2008 winners) and Pohang Steelers (2009) qualified through winning the domestic cup and league position respectively.
If Seongnam go on to win the ACL next month but don't win the 3~6 K-League playoff series then someone's going to have a decision to make. This happened with the English Premier League five years ago when Liverpool won the European Champions League but finished fifth and outside the ECL qualifying spots. In the end UEFA gave them special dispensation to enter the tournament from the earliest qualifying round and they amended their regulations to stop such a scenario occuring again.
Mohamed Bin Hammam stated yesterday
"I can confirm to you here that for the time being, team quota for ACL 2011 will remain the same,â€ he said.
"There is a step-by-step phase and as we have decided the quota system from 2009-2011, then it is better for us to stick with it.
"We can't change things in hurry."
That was in regard to Thai participation in the AFC Champions League but the "team quota for ACL 2011 will remain the same" bit implies that Korea will have no more nor fewer than the four representatives they've had the past two seasons. There's no provision in the ACL regulations for teams to enter as defending tournament champions and league associations with more than one participant are obliged to enter the cup winners so Suwon are guaranteed to qualify.
All ifs, whats and maybes but there would be an interesting scenario if the regular season finished thus:
1. FC Seoul
With Suwon guaranteed qualification as cup winners and FC Seoul as the top placed regular season side, it would be very interesting to see what happened should Seongnam win the ACL and then Jeonbuk, Ulsan or Gyeongnam won the championship playoff in the scenario above. Jeonbuk/Ulsan/Gyeongnam would have to join Suwon and FC Seoul in the ACL as title winners which could
then see Jeju miss out if it was decided that Seongnam should take one spot to defend their ACL title.