The reigning K League 1 MVP Kim Bo-kyung is entering an offseason of uncertainty, as his loan deal from Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol to Ulsan Hyundai FC expired with the season's conclusion last weekend.
After accepting the trophy for the top individual award in South Korean pro football on Monday, Kim said nothing has been determined about his immediate future.
Kim Bo-kyung of Ulsan Hyundai FC kisses the trophy for the K League 1 MVP award during the K League Awards ceremony in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
"I know I've reached a point where I have to make a decision," the 30-year-old midfielder said. "As important as my own opinions are, I also have to speak with my agent and my team. Nothing concrete has taken place on that front."
Kim had said before that his future destination would depend on whether Ulsan won the K League 1 championship this year. They blew a chance to capture their first title in 14 years on Sunday, losing to Pohang Steelers 4-1 in the season finale and allowing Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to win their third straight championship with a 1-0 win over Gangwon FC.
Kim, who led all South Korean players with 13 goals in 2019, said he received the MVP award with mixed emotions.
"I don't know if I am really that much better than other MVP candidates," Kim said of Moon Seon-min of Jeonbuk, Cesinha of Daegu FC and Wanderson of Pohang. "I won the MVP thanks to my teammates' sacrifices. So if I don't celebrate this award properly, then I wouldn't be doing justice to those players. I am grateful but also sorry at the same time."
Kim said while Ulsan's collapse obviously hurt, that shouldn't discourage him and other Ulsan players from trying to learn from their failure.
"If we give it all up and say to ourselves this is as far as we can go, then our fans will be really disappointed," he said. "I think fans watch the K League because players keep battling over and over again. We should all try to take the next step from here."
Kim said it was "a privilege" to have played with a contending club like Ulsan in 2019.
"I must say I've been very fortunate, and only a few players get to enjoy an opportunity like this," Kim added. "I think I won the MVP because I competed on such a good club. Ulsan brought out the best in me."