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Who are the starting goalkeepers in 2023 K League 1?

It's been a busy transfer window with a fair bit of goalkeeper movement, both within the league and with K League custodians departing for J.League. This has left spots needing to be filled so who will be expected to be first choice when the 2022 Hana 1Q K League 1 season begins? 

Ulsan Hyundai - Jo Hyeon-woo

Never will there be a goalkeeper spot so secure. Jo Hyeon-woo has a reliable understudy in Jo Su-huk but he is in no danger of losing his place to him. Since Jo Hyeon-woo joined Ulsan in 2020 he has missed just 12 games, nine of those were the Horangi's run to the 2020 AFC Champions League title which he missed due to COVID-19 and was in quarantine.

Likelihood of Starting: 100%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 95%

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors - Jeong Min-ki

The situation at Jeonbuk is far clearer now that Lee Bum-soo has left and joined Bucheon FC 1995. The Green Warriors replaced Song Bum-keun, who departed for mid-table J1 League side Shonan Bellmare, with FC Anyang's Jeong Min-ki. Jeong has been one of the best goalkeepers in K League 2 for the last few years and was the subject of interest from other K League 1 clubs in this winter window and the ones before. Jeong Min-ki made 17 cleansheets for FC Anyang last year, the most in the division. The other candidate is Kim Jeong-hoon who is back from military service. Kim is still eligible for the U22 rule too and so could be an option for Kim Sang-sik.

Likelihood of Starting: 90%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 100% (FC Anyang)

Pohang Steelers - Yun Pyeong-guk

With Kang Hyun-mu now with Gimcheon Sangmu for military service and Ryu Won-woo departing for pastures new at K League 2 newcomers Chungbuk Cheongju, the patch is clear for Yun Pyeong-guk to be the undisputed first choice goalkeeper for Pohang Steelers. In truth, he has been for the last 12 months as even when Kang Hyun-mu was back fit, Yun kept his place due to his impressive performances. What about Hwang In-jae, you might say? His performances during Gimcheon's run-in and the errors he made in the playoffs won't fill Kim Gi-dong with confidence. Hwang is very likely to be backup to Yun Pyeong-guk. There is, of course, 24-year-old Cho Sung-hoon but given that he has only amassed five career appearances, will be most likely used by the reserves.

Likelihood of Starting: 99%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022:

Incheon United - Kim Dong-heon

Given how well Kim Dong-heon performed last season, the gloves are his to lose. He started 25 games for Incheon last year and kept eight cleansheets. Lee Tae-hui is likely to be second choice but still managed 13 games for the Durumi last year but kept just two cleansheets. For Kim, though, 11 prevented goals was the most in the league and conceded 22 from an xGC of 29.35. 

Likelihood of Starting: 75%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 66%

Jeju United - Kim Dong-jun

Kim Dong-jun was Jeju United's first-choice goalkeeper for most of last year and would have been throughout the whole season had he not been involved in a car accident in October. The former Seongnam and Daejeon man, though, is back in full training and is expected to be ready in time for the 2023 season. Jeju have dipped into the transfer market this winter for a couple of goalkeepers, namely Kim Hyeong-geun and Kim Keun-bae. The former, 29, arrives from Seoul E-Land and played just six times last season and just two the season before and so is very likely to be Kim Dong-jun's understudy. Kim Keun-bae, meanwhile, will be third choice while there is still little information on the current condition of Yoo Yeon-soo who reportedly suffered serious injuries in the aforementioned car accident.

Likelihood of Starting: 90%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 91%

Gagwon FC - Yu Sang-hun

Yu Sang-hun signed a new contract with Gangwon FC in December last year, further cementing his place as the club's first-choice goalkeeper. He missed just three matches last year, appearing in 35 of the team's 38 league games, but Gangwon failed to win any of the three matches he was left out for. Lee Kwang-yeon played in two of them, Kim Jung-ho in one. Lee, though, did his cruciate in April and missed most of the season due to injury. He is, however, back in training with the rest of the team and so the Gangwon situation is one to keep tabs on.

Likelihood of Starting: 80%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 92%

Suwon FC - Park Bae-jong

The situation at Suwon FC is an intriguing one. You'd think that with Yoo Hyun leaving that things would be a little clearer but in has come Noh Dong-geon on a free transfer from Suwon Bluewings. Noh hasn't played much over the last couple of years so he's unlikely to be a starter at Castle Park. There are two other candidates who would be seen as the frontrunners - Park Bae-jong and Lee Bum-young. Park was the number one last year, or at least he eventually established himself as so after Yoo Hyun and endured a tricky start to the season. Park played 25 times but kept just five cleansheets. Lee Bum-young, meanwhile, moved from warming Jeonbuk's bench to warming Suwon FC's. Whether he does that again this season will be something to keep tabs on. 

Likelihood of Starting: 45%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 66%

Daegu FC - Oh Seung-hoon

Brought in to take over from the erratic Choi Young-eun, Oh Seung-hoon has established himself as Daegu FC's undisputed first-choice goalkeeper. He missed just two games last season and managed to keep a respectable nine cleansheets. Choi hasn't covered himself in glory when brought into the team. Lee Jun-hee is back with the team having been in K4 with Siheung Citizen and Jinju Citizen. The former Pohang and Gyeongnam man may be able to become second choice but Oh Seung-hoon will be the Sky Blues' starting goalkeeper.

Likelihood of Starting: 99%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 95%

FC Seoul - Choi Cheol-won

Yang Han-been has left and replacing him at FC Seoul is Choi Cheol-won who's signed from Bucheon FC 1995 in K League 2. Choi is one of four goalkeepers on the books at FC Seoul, though, with backup Hwang Sung-min signing a new contract, Seo Ju-hwan who joined midway through last season; praised as one for the future he was lauded for his build-up play. Then there's Baek Jong-beom who is in the last year of qualifying as an U22 player. Baek is highly rated and is the main competitor to Choi Cheol-won to start between the sticks. Choi is coming into his peak years as a goalkeeper at the age of 28 and actually made the most saves in K League 2 last year. Expect Choi to start but Baek is an option as an U22 player if winger Kang Seong-jin or centre back Lee Han-beom are not available or out of form.

Likelihood of Starting: 75%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 93% (Bucheon)

Suwon Samsung Bluewings - Yang Hyung-mo

Yang Hyung-mo no longer has Noh Dong-geon breathing down his neck but the Bluewings still have the highly-rated Park Ji-min waiting in the wings, not to mention An Chan-gi who has been involved with South Korea's U22 and U23 teams. An Chan-gi spent last season on loan at Chungbuk Cheongju in K3, making 12 appearances. He managed just two cleansheets and shipped 17 goals in a season that saw the team finish 14th out of 16. An, then, is unlikely to be in the frame for the number-one shirt. Park Ji-min featured for Bluewings last year, albeit just twice and has made just seven career appearances, most of which came while on military service with Sangju. Yang Hyung-mo, then, is extremely likely to be the Bluewings' first choice goalkeeper. He kept seven cleansheets last year in 37 appearances including the playoffs. He ranked highly in a number of goalkeeping metrics, more information can be found here.

Likelihood of Starting: 90%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 93%

Gwangju FC - Kim Kyeong-min

Gwangju FC won promotion to K League 1 last year with Kim Kyeong-min as the recognised number one. After joining from Seoul E-Land, Kim made 34 appearances, kept 16 cleansheets - the second-most in the division, and was named in the K League 2 Best XI. This is one fewer than Jeong Min-ki but because Jeong had played four games more than Kim, Gwangju's custodian has a better cleansheet percentage - 47.1% compared to 42.5%. Kim's competition comes from Lee Jun, a 25-year-old who has amassed just 16 career appearances. He filled in for Kang Hyun-mu while at Pohang in 2021, appearing in the AFC Champions League three times and in the K League for the Steelers six times. But Lee Jun has played just seven times for Gwangju and looks set to be Kim Kyeong-min's understudy in 2023.

Likelihood of Starting: 99%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 85%

Daejeon Hana Citizen - Lee Chang-geun

Lee Chang-geun is the undisputed number one for Daejeon Hana Citizen and is one of the goalkeepers you'd bank on starting between the sticks. He missed a few games last season due to injury after colliding with Daejeon defender Kim Jae-woo and dislocating his shoulder. Daejeon boss Lee Min-sung then opted for the experience of Jeong San to replace him but after a sticky patch of form, he brought in promising custodian Lee Jun-seo. Lee kept his place for a couple of matches even when Lee Chang-geun was fit again as he played the role of understudy very well and the team was winning. However, Lee Chang-geun was brought back in and saw the season out. 

Likelihood of Starting: 99%
Percentage of K League Matches Played in 2022: 76%

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