Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae Wins Top South Korean Footballer of 2023 Award

MUNICH - Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae has been named the top South Korean male football player for 2023, breaking a four-year winning streak previously held by Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min. This prestigious award, his first annual honor, was announced by the Korea Football Association (KFA) on Tuesday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Kim garnered 137 points in a vote conducted among football journalists and members of the KFA's technical development and national team committees. Son, who has previously won a record seven Player of the Year awards from 2019 to 2022, finished as the runner-up this year with 113 points, while Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lee Kang-in ranked third with 84 points.

Kim, who was the runner-up to Son in both 2021 and 2022, joined Bayern Munich in the summer following a successful year with Napoli in Italy. During his tenure at Napoli, Kim played a pivotal role in helping the team clinch their first Serie A title in 33 years. His outstanding performance in the Italian league also earned him the title of the best defender.

Currently, with Kim in defense, Bayern Munich is positioned second in the Bundesliga with 38 points, trailing Bayer Leverkusen by four points but with a game in hand. The team has also conceded the second-fewest goals in the league, a testament to Kim's defensive prowess.

At 27 years old, Kim Min-jae becomes the first defender since Kim Young-gwon in 2015 to receive the KFA's top male player award. Expressing his gratitude at the awards ceremony held in Seoul, Kim said, "It's an honor to win such a huge award. I will continue to work hard." He also remarked that 2023 was "the most special year of my life" and expressed his aspirations to maintain his high level of performance.

In the women's category, 21-year-old winger Chun Garam was voted the Female Player of the Year. Chun, who made her senior international debut in November 2022, has since earned 11 caps and scored four goals, including a hat-trick against Thailand in an Olympic qualification match. She played a crucial role in leading Hwacheon KSPO WFC to their best ever finish in the WK League's regular season.

The KFA's recognition extended to coaches as well. Kim Gi-dong, who guided Pohang Steelers to the FA Cup title and a second-place finish in K League 1, was named the Male Coach of the Year. Kim Eun-sook of Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels WFC, who led her team to an 11th consecutive WK League championship, received the Female Coach of the Year award. Additionally, Hwang Jae-won of Daegu FC and rising women's national team star Casey Yujin Phair were honored with the Male and Female Young Player of the Year awards, respectively.

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