Ulsan defender Kim Young-gwon voted 2023 K League 1 MVP

SEOUL, - Kim Young-gwon, defender for the South Korean football champions Ulsan Hyundai FC, was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the country's top division Monday.

Kim, 33, collected 55 out of 115 votes from media, six out of 12 votes from head coaches and four out of 12 votes from captains of clubs in the K League 1. This is his first MVP honor.

Those totals were converted to 44.13 voting points for Kim, who edged out Zeca of Pohang Steelers, who finished with 41.76 points.

Kim appeared in 32 of Ulsan's 38 matches this year, his second with Ulsan. The center back completed 2,268 passes, the most on his team and third most in the K League 1.

Kim, who had previously played club football in Japan and China, is the second straight Ulsan player to win the K League 1 MVP award, following midfielder Lee Chung-yong last season.

Ulsan locked down their second consecutive title on Oct. 29, with three matches left this season. They finished the campaign with 76 points from 23 wins, seven draws and eight losses, 12 points ahead of Pohang Steelers.

Kim's head coach, Hong Myung-bo, captured his second straight Coach of the Year award. Hong collected 36 votes from media, nine from his fellow head coaches and four from captains, for a total of 45.02 points.

Lee Jung-hyo of Gwangju FC, who led the upstart club to a third-place finish in their first season following promotion from the K League 2, earned the most media votes with 59. However, Lee only got one vote each from his peers and captains, and finished with 25.52 points.

The top coaching award has often been given to the bench boss of the champions. In 2020, Pohang's Kim captured the award after leading his team to a third-place finish, becoming the first winner not to come from a champion or a runner-up.

Jung Ho-yeon of Gwangju FC won the Young Player of the Year award, presented to the best player aged 23 or younger, with under three years of K League experience.

In his first K League 1 season, Jung, 23, recorded two goals and four assists. Gwangju had five wins and a draw in six matches in which Jung had a goal or an assist.

Jung garnered 43 votes from media, two votes from head coaches and six votes from captains, for 34.96 points. Hwang Jae-won of Daegu FC was the runner-up with 32.17 points.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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