The Korea Herald


Ex-MVP Son Jun-ho returns to K League after release in China

By Yonhap

Published : June 14, 2024 - 21:08

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K League 1 club's new midfielder Son Jun-ho (Yonhap) K League 1 club's new midfielder Son Jun-ho (Yonhap)

South Korean international and former MVP Son Jun-ho is returning to the top-flight K League 1, a little more than a year after being detained by Chinese authorities over alleged bribery charges.

Suwon FC announced Friday they have acquired the 32-year-old midfielder. Financial terms were not disclosed. Son, considered a smart playmaker who can play on both ends, will join the team for training immediately but will be formally registered next Thursday.

Son, who began playing for Chinese club Shandong Taishan in 2021, was placed in custody in May last year in the Chinese province of Liaoning. China never officially confirmed his charges, but his detention was believed to have been in connection with a bribery case.

Son came home in March. He then began playing for an amateur club while preparing to return to the K League 1.

Son previously played for Pohang Steelers from 2014 to 2017 and led the K League 1 with 14 assists in 2017. He then manned the midfield for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from 2018 to 2020. He was voted the K League 1 MVP in 2020 after helping Jeonbuk win their fourth consecutive league championship.

Internationally, Son was on South Korea's gold medal-winning team at the 2014 Asian Games, and played in three matches during South Korea's run to the round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Son had been in talks with Jeonbuk for a reunion, but Suwon FC swooped in earlier this week after Son's negotiations with Jeonbuk fell through.

At Suwon, Son will be reunited with former Jeonbuk teammates in Kwon Kyung-won and Lee Yong. Suwon FC's sporting director, Choi Soon-ho, coached Son at Pohang.

"I am happy to be playing for Suwon FC. There are players I've shared fond memories with from the past," Son said. "I am looking forward to the future with this club."

Suwon FC are fifth in the tables with 27 points after 16 matches, only four points behind first-place Ulsan HD FC.

"He is one of the top midfielders, and we'll figure out the best ways to use him," Suwon FC head coach Kim Eun-jung said. "I expect him to join other veterans on the team to provide some stability." (Yonhap)