The time for Hwang Ui-jo, 31, and FC Seoul’s ‘heralded’ parting of ways is approaching. Five fateful days.
South Korean striker Hwang Ui-jo signed a short-term loan deal with FC Seoul in February. It was his return to the K League after a six-year absence since 2017, when he played for Seongnam FC. There was a reason for this: he moved to English Premier League (EPL) side Nottingham ahead of the 2022-2023 season. He was immediately loaned to Olympiakos (Greece). Hwang didn’t get much of a chance at Olympiakos. He had to play, and he did, holding the hand of his ‘teacher’, Ahn Ik-soo, and wearing a Seoul jersey. Hwang’s resurgence began with four goals and two assists in 18 matches of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023. He also opened the scoring in a friendly against El Salvador at Daejeon World Cup Stadium on Sept. 20. It was his first goal in more than a year with the A team.
The farewell came quickly. Shortly after the ‘Super Match’ against Suwon Samsung at the Suwon World Cup Stadium on May 25, Hwang said, “I’m still talking to Nottingham. I don’t know what the future holds. My contract (with Seoul) is until June 30. I haven’t spoken to them properly.”
Seoul is sad to see him go. “We will miss Hwang Ui-jo a lot,” Ahn said. “I met him when he was just 21 years old. We met again more than 10 years later. He was so cool, and his coolness could only fit into FC Seoul. I don’t think it would look good anywhere else (laughs). I hope they take that into consideration when making decisions. We gave Korean soccer fans a really good performance and energized them. It was an energizer. It was very much like him. It would be nice to have him.” When asked for advice for Hwang, Ahn said, “I don’t think he will go (to another team). …. I will think about that comment carefully next time,” he said, expressing his strong hope that he will stay.
Hwang said, “The coach sometimes does it in a joking way during training, so I’ll do it (laughs). Even (Kim) Joo-sung jokingly said to me just now, ‘Why don’t you stay for six more months,'” he laughed.
In the meantime, Hwang Ui-jo has been calling for a European challenge. “It’s a challenge as always. I went to Europe at a late age and had a lot of good experiences. I want to challenge (the European stage) again and have time to test myself,” he said. “I had a tough time at Olympiacos for six months… I think it was my first time in soccer. I grew up and thought a lot about being a good player again. I came to Seoul and played soccer with a lot of love that I didn’t deserve. I think the good players, good managers, good coaches, and good staff gave me a lot of love. 안전놀이터 I want to say thank you,” he said.
“There were many Seoul fans who came to every game. I would like to say that I am very grateful that I can do this interview in Korean. I think it was a period in Seoul that made me feel that I can develop more and become a better player. I also remember playing the Super Match at home. I also remember the game against Daegu FC, where a lot of fans came. I think all the matches were memorable and happy moments.”
“If Nottingham asks me to look for another team, or if it doesn’t work out with Nottingham, it takes time to look for another team. During that time, I think there are cases where I can play for Seoul again. (Now) I’ve played six months in Europe and six months in the K League, a full season. It’s an off-season. I need to find a team, and if something else happens, I guess that’s a possibility. I’ll have to think about it for a week to see if the manager is sleepy and wants me to take a vacation. If things go well with Nottingham, I’ll be back in quickly.”