Striker Hwang Eui-jo (31-Norwich City), who has been under police investigation as a suspect in a ‘suspected illegal filming’ case, has stirred up controversy by appearing in a national team match.
Hwang came on as a substitute for Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan) in the 27th minute of the second leg of South Korea’s 3-0 win over China in Group C of the Asian qualifying round for the 2026 FIFA Confederations Cup North America on July 21 in Shenzhen, China, and played more than 20 minutes on the pitch.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first half on a Son Heung-min PK goal and a Son Heung-min header off a Lee Kang-in corner kick, South Korea sealed the 3-0 victory in the second half when defender Jung Seung-hyun scored a header wedge from the box off a Son Heung-min assist. Some Chinese fans, who had booed the national anthem before the game, felt “marginalized,” while South Korean soccer fans cheered.
It was a clean victory, but one that left a sour taste in the mouth. Public opinion is divided over the late substitution of Hwang Eui-jo. It was a controversy that was expected from the start.
Last week, Hwang became a suspect in a private life leak case. Hwang Ui-jo, who requested an investigation after complaining about the video leak in June, has now been accused of perpetrating it. The victim who requested the investigation claimed that “Hwang Ui-jo shot illegal videos without consent”.
On the 20th, Hwang Ui-jo stated through his legal representative, “I feel deeply sorry and responsible for my former lover who was harmed by this incident,” but the case is escalating into a battle of truth as the victim’s side has announced a hardline response policy, stating that “Hwang Ui-jo illegally filmed a video containing intimate private life without consent.” The two sides are at loggerheads over whether or not they agreed to the filming.레모나토토
Public opinion is divided on whether Hwang should play for the national team after being investigated by the police in the midst of a heated dispute over whether he consented to the filming.
Immediately after Hwang’s inclusion, the soccer community, including the Korean Football Association’s (KFA) official social media, was flooded with criticism, including “does it make sense to let a suspect play in a national game,” “why should he play at this point in time,” and “what a soccer cartel.” Those who didn’t criticize the inclusion argued that he should be protected by the principle of presumption of innocence.
At a press conference after the victory, Klinsmann said, “I am aware of the controversy in Korea. I know that the investigation is ongoing until the charges are clearly revealed. I can’t say there’s anything wrong or guilty right now, so I think it’s the role of a leader to help them play on the field.”
He added: “In my 40 years of football, I’ve seen a lot of issues, speculation and incidents. Until there’s clarity, I want my players to perform on the field.”
Klinsmann has also continued to play Jung Seung-hyun and Park Yong-woo, who have been involved in racism controversies. Some have criticized Klinsmann for his ‘moral insensitivity’.
While the ‘presumption of innocence’ argument and Klinsmann’s opinion as the national team manager should be respected, it is hard to ignore the fact that the controversy itself could be a reason for disqualification under the Korea Football Association’s national team rules.
Article 6 of the rules states, “Members of the national team at all levels shall refrain from any behavior that degrades their dignity as representatives of the country and shall maintain social responsibility and morality.” In Chapter 3, Article 14, “Reasons and Subjects of Discipline,” of the KOC’s Regulations, which contains comprehensive rules on discipline, it states that “if a person seriously undermines his or her dignity as an athlete,” the KOC may open a disciplinary hearing to consider the matter.
If the allegations of Hwang Ui-jo’s illegal filming are proven to be true, it would be a disqualification that comes close to violating the dignity of a national team member. It will be interesting to see if the KFA will follow up with a firm disciplinary action against the national team’s star striker.