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Your Guide to Promotion and Relegation in the 2022 K League

With only two games to play in the regular season in the K League 1, it is time for a few teams to think about the possibility of fighting for survival. With Seongnam FC already relegated to the K League 2, it leaves only three other teams with the possibility of joining them.

Daegu's win midweek leaves them just about high and dry. However, it is Gimcheon Sangmu, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, and only on paper, FC Seoul who are still in no man’s land in turns of where they will play next year. Michael Redmond looks at what to expect in the next few weeks.


How it Works

There are 12 teams in the K League 1 and 11 teams in the K League 2. 12th place in the top tier will swap with 1st place in the K League 1. This year it will be Seongnam Fc going down and Gwangju Fc going up. 

Here is where it gets a little bit complicated. 11th place in the K League 1 will then play 2nd place in the K League 2 in a one-off playoff game. 

Then 10th place will play the promotion play-off winners in the K League 2. That will consist of 5th place playing 4th place and the winner of that playing 3rd. The team who survives that gauntlet will play 10th, again in a one-off game. 

This is the first time that there is potential for three K League 2 teams to be promoted in one season.


The Challengers

Daejeon Hana Citizen


Current position- 2nd place 

Previous time in the K League 1- 2015 

A team that was bought by the Hana Bank in time for the 2020 season, Daejeon have pumped an incredible amount of money into their team to succeed and get promoted into the K League 1. 

Last season saw them painfully lose out in the Promotion/ Relegation game against Gangwon Fc in December. Daejeon won the first leg 1-0 and then even went 1-0 up in the second leg in Gangreung. 

Then 5 minutes of madness perused which saw Gangwon go 3-1 up. Hwang Mun-ki put the tie to bed in injury time. The final score over two legs was 4-2. 

Daejeon seemed to have dropped the ball in the 2nd leg that day. They will not want to repeat that fate this year. 

Fc Anyang


Current position- 3rd 

Last time in the K League 1- N/A 

A club that was founded in 2013, Fc Anyang have never tasted the highs of the K League 1. It could be seen as a phoenix team from Lg Anyang Cheetahs, a team that was once a Seoul-based team, calling themselves Lucky Gold-Star Football Club moved to Anyang in the early 90s. The team then moved back to the capital in 2003. That team once again renamed itself. Their name now is FC Seoul. 

This will be FC Anyang’s third time in the playoffs with the previous occasions being in 2019 and 2021. Last season saw FC Anyang lose out against Daejeon Hana Citizens. 

The playoffs are not really a common thing in the city of Anyang, yet they have been playing stylish football over the last two years which has given them credentials to call themselves a top K League 2 team. 


Bucheon 1995

Current Position- 5th 

Last time in K League 1- N/A 

A team which has a history which is an article in itself, this is another phoenix team, which rose after the relocation of Bucheon SK to the island of Jeju to become Jeju United. 

The team formed in 2008 and started out in the K3 League. They then moved into the Challengers League. A league now recognized as K League 3. They made their jump to the K League 2 in 2013. 

They, like Fc Anyang, are also in uncommon ground, with only featuring in the playoffs two times before. The first time was back in 2016 when they fell 1-0 to Gangwon and the last time was in 2019 when they drew 1-1 away from home to Fc Anyang. In Korea, the home team have the goal advantage as the home team is the team that finished higher in the league than the away team. 

Bucheon’s 4th place is cemented and will have a home-field advantage when they face off against 5th place on October 19th. 

Gyeongnam Fc 


Current position- 5th 

Last time in the K League 1- 2019 

A team that is more than accustomed to time in the top flight, Gyeongnam have struggled in recent years to recreate the magic that was seen in Changwon before. 

Their 2018 K League 1 campaign was something of folk law as they ended that campaign in 2nd place. All with help from Brazilian forward, Marcão. 

A draw on the weekend will more than likely confirm their position in the playoffs unless Chungnam Asan beat Gwangju Fc 21-0. 

Their last playoff ended in painstaking fashion as an injury-time penalty for Suwon Fc in the 2020 Playoff final saw them draw 1-1. Once again, Suwon was the home side and progressed. 


To rub salt into the room, because Sangju Sangmu relocated to Gimcheon, they were automatically relegated from the K League 1. Meaning that for the 2020 season, the winner of the Playoff had no Promotion/ Relegation game. They just went straight up. 


Chungnam Asan


Current League Position- 6th 

Last time in the K League 1- N/A

A team with not the greatest luck, they have actually won the K League 2 on two occasions. Back in 2016 they became champions but were refused promotion as they relocated to Asan. They were currently in Ansan at the time. They then went and won the league again in 2018. However, they changed their status from a police team to a civil team, once again denying them a promotion. 

Chungnam Asan has now been a civil team for three seasons and this could be the first time they see themselves in the playoffs since the change. 

If Asan can go all the way, there is nothing denying them promotion this time around. They will need a Gyeongnam loss and an Asan win if they have any chance to sneak into the playoffs.


The Survivors

FC Seoul 

Current position-9th 

Last time in the K League 2- N/A

FC Seoul have been the shell of its former glory. Seoul have managed to be in the bottom six three out of the last four years, with 2018 taking them all the way to the Promotion/ Relegation game against Busan IPark. Seoul ended up winning the tie and surviving, but they have not been the team that was challenging for an ACL spot years prior. 

To be honest, FC Seoul are more than likely going to survive, being five points ahead of Suwon Bluewings with only two games left. They will need to lose their next two games and Suwon win their next two games for them to see themselves in a playoff spot. Now stranger things have happened, however, one of the teams they play is an already relegated Seongnam FC with nothing to play for. 

Seoul will need to pull their socks up next year as in 2023, they may not be so lucky.

Suwon Samsung Bluewings


Current Position- 10th place 

Last time in the K League 2- N/A

A team that has never been relegated from

the  K League 1, 2022 poses a real threat to the Bluewings to play football in the 2nd division next year. A loss against Daegu Fc midweek basically secured their position being either 10th or 11th. 

It has been a season to forget for Suwon, with their cross-city rival team Fc Suwon finishing above them for the second season in a row. 

This is a team that has K League 1, FA Cup, and ACL titles to their name and relegation would be one of the biggest shocks in recent Korean football. 

With only 9 wins in 36 games, Suwon will need to get prepared to face off against a lively K League 2 side come the business end of October. 

Gimcheon Sangmu


Current Position- 11th 

Last time in the K League 2- 2021 

Last year’s K League 2 champions have had a torrid time since returning to the top division. A side that was relegated in 2020 due to their relocation from Sangju, the army side has the pick of the best Korean players in military service.

That however hasn’t helped the side who have only picked up 8 wins this season. Gimcheon will play in a playoff game this year, that is guaranteed. 

The silver lining  for Gimcheon is, they are going to play a team that they have played last year. All the teams in the race for a playoff spot right now failed to beat Gimcheon last year. However, that was last year and this is now. 


The Dates

Game one 

4th Place (Bucheon 1995) vs 5th Place - Wednesday 19th October - 7pm Kick-off. 

Game two 


3rd place vs Winner of game 1- Saturday 22nd October 2pm Kick-off 

Promotion/ Relegation Games. 

10th Place K League 1 vs Winner of game two - Wednesday 26th October - 7pm Kick-off. 


10th Place K League 1 vs 2nd Place K League 2- Sunday 30th October 2022- 2pm Kick-off.



Final Thought

It was a disappointing season for Seongnam who went straight down and an amazing season for Gwangju, who won the league on record points. On paper, this looked like happening back in February when the season started. 

The surprise for most fans this year will be the sights of Fc Seoul and Suwon in the relegation mix. These are two teams who were fighting for an ACL spot only a couple of years ago, and now they are in this position. 

You can cut Gimcheon some slack as they do not get to pick their players and they are in their first season back in the top flight after a season out. 


Who will be fighting for K League 2 promotion next year?

For the K League 2, Daejeon Hana Citizen will be the team to avoid. They have been playing clinical football all year with only minimal errors. 

Fc Anyang and Bucheon are having underdog years, however, they really have strength and depth in their team that could take them all the way. 

Gyeongnam and Asan still have a shout but the level of quality between 2nd -4th and 5th is very apparent. 

Only the end of October will tell who will be the winners and who will be the losers. Will we see a mix-up in the tables? Or another disappointing season for the K League 2 dreamers? 

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