Jeju’s key midfielder Lee Chang-min, 29, has an enlistment date. It’s June 12. He will temporarily leave Seogwipo, Jeju Island for military service. Starting June 12, Lee will serve 21 months as a social service worker (public service) for Geoje Citizens Football Club in the K4 League (Division 4). Lee, who has played 10 games this year, will enlist after playing four more games against Suwon on June 27, Gangwon on June 3, Pohang on June 6, and Ulsan on June 10. He will greet the home fans at the home game against Gangwon on June 3.
It was expected. Lee Chang-min, who joined Jeju in 2016, has been steadily preparing for his enlistment. He applied for the 2021 Gimcheon Commerce recruitment, but was rejected due to injury. Born in 1993, he had to fulfill his military obligation as a social service worker as he was over the minimum age of 27 to apply. After undergoing a physical examination in March, Lee waited for his enlistment date while playing professionally, and only last week was he notified of his June 12 enlistment.
For Jeju, it’s less of a shock because they’ve been preparing to say “goodbye” to Lee for over two years. Last winter, Jeju head coach Nam Ki-il prepared a new midfield lineup centered on captain Choi Young-jun and featuring the likes of Koo Ja-cheol and Kim Bong-soo in case Lee Chang-min was drafted early in the season.
However, the plan went awry when Choi was injured in the opening match and Lee Chang-min’s enlistment date was not confirmed. The Jeju players relied heavily on Lee Chang-min, who boasts a Sejingya-level of influence in Jeju. With Lee in the lineup, the team went 6-3-1 with a 60% win rate. Without Lee, the team had a win rate of just 25% (1-3-1). Lee played a key role in the team’s five-game winning streak from Round 9 to Round 13. Jeju rebounded from their early season slump to sit in third place with 7 W, 3 D, 4 L, and 24 points as of Round 14.
Now that Lee’s enlistment date has been confirmed, Jeju has begun to think beyond June 12 in earnest. They are looking for a central midfielder, both domestically and internationally. If a player of the caliber to pair with Koo Ja-cheol and Kim Bong-soo doesn’t fly under the radar, or if the conditions aren’t right, the team may have to rely 안전놀이터 on existing resources. Jeju acquired Lee Ki-hyuk from Suwon FC ahead of the season. Han Jong-mu, a former youth player, is looking for a chance to shine.
Lee has played 201 league games in a Jeju uniform. He is slowly approaching Kim Ki-dong’s (now Pohang’s) 274 games, Jeju’s all-time record. He said on the 15th, “Jeju is my other home. Until the day I leave, I will give everything for Jeju and say goodbye to the fans with a smile,” he said, adding, “I want to break Coach Kim Ki-dong’s record for most appearances in Jeju (after returning).”