|Kim Shin-wook. (Yonhap News)|
Ulsan Hyundai striker Kim Shin-wook was the runaway winner of the most valuable player honors in the top domestic football league on Tuesday.
Kim earned 90 out of 113 media votes to earn his first MVP honors in the K League Classic, overwhelming Pohang Steelers midfielder Lee Myoung-joo, who had 12 votes, and FC Seoul midfielder Ha Dae-sung, who collected 11 votes.
Kim, 25, helped Ulsan finish second in the first-division league with 73 points, one behind Pohang Steelers.
Kim came up just shy of winning his first-ever scoring title.
He and FC Seoul striker Dejan Damjanovic both finished the season with 19 goals, but Damjanovic was declared the scoring champ for playing fewer games than Kim, 29 to 36.
Damjanovic scored his 19th goal in the team’s final game of the season against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Sunday. Kim, however, was suspended for his team’s finale against Pohang on the same day, having earned his second yellow in as many games in the previous match.
Pohang defeated Ulsan 1-0 in that finale with a thrilling last-second goal, snatching the K League Classic championship from Ulsan’s grasp as Kim helplessly watched from the sidelines. Kim, though, got his consolation prize in the form of the highest individual award in the league.
Accepting the trophy, the gracious Kim thanked his club and his teammates for their contribution.
“I don’t know how much longer I will be playing this sport, but I will try not to forget my roots, where I came from,” he said. “I hope to become a player who can contribute to the development of the league and the sport as a whole.”
Pohang’s head coach Hwang Sun-hong was the other big winner on Tuesday, easily taking the Coach of the Year award after the dramatic finish to the season.
Hwang earned 75 out of 113 votes to edge out Kim Ho-gon of Ulsan, with 33 votes, and Choi Yong-soo of FC Seoul, the 2012 Coach of the Year who only had five votes this year.
In his third season as Pohang’s head coach, Hwang, 45, accomplished the unprecedented double, capturing both the FA Cup and the league championship, without services of foreign players.
The former star striker for South Korea signed a two-year extension in late October.
Also on Tuesday, Pohang Steelers forward Ko Mu-yeol was voted the Young Player of 2013, with 71 out 113 votes. FC Seoul midfielder Yun Il-lok had 35 votes, while forward Han Kyo-won of Incheon United had seven votes.
Ko, 23, scored eight goals and set up five, helping his club win the league championship and the FA Cup.
The Young Player award was presented for the first time this year, replacing the more conventional Rookie of the Year honors. To be considered, candidates had to be South Korean-born players aged 23 or younger and must have appeared in at least half of the team’s games this year. Furthermore, former Rookie of the Year winners were not eligible, and candidates must not have played for no more than three seasons in the K League Classic.
The league also announced the All-K League Classic team of 11 players at each position. Kim Shin-wook and Damjanovic were the two forwards, with Ko Mu-yeol, Lee Myoung-joo and Jeonbuk’s Leonardo selected as midfielders.
On defense, Ulsan’s Kim Chi-gon and Lee Yong were joined by Pohang’s Kim Won-il and FC Seoul’s Adi. Ulsan’s goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu was selected the top netminder.
Ulsan had four players, while Pohang and FC Seoul each had three players apiece, and Jeonbuk had one. (Yonhap News)