Kim Bo-kyung - Where is he?

A look now at one of my favourite South Korean footballers Kim Bo-kyung or otherwise known as Kimbo by fans of Cardiff City. Kimbo first came to my attention when I was a season ticket holder for Cardiff City in the 2012-13 season at the time he had just signed for a fee thought to be in the region of £2.5 million from Japanese side Cerezo Osaka. Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan a Malaysian businessman was pumping millions into the Welsh club at the time to get them promoted to the Premiership. 

Kimbo hit the ground running for Cardiff City and was an instant fan favourite, hence the nickname given to him Kimbo. It was great to see such an attack-minded midfielder who would always cause a problem for defenders. His first of only three goals for Cardiff City game in an away win over Blackburn when he scored to make it 4-1. It was a game which helped create a lead for Cardiff at the top of the league and in the end, helped them get promoted as champions to the premiership. Kimbo went on to play 28 times that season scoring once more and was one of the key ingredients in getting the team promoted with his attacking play in the midfield. 

Kimbo went on to make 28 appearances in the Premier League also and in late November 2013, he scored his last goal for the club a late equaliser to help Cardiff City draw 2-2 with Manchester United. Cardiff City unfortunately still suffered relegation that season. It was a season full of controversy after a promising start. The then manager Malky Mackay was sacked. It later came out this was due to him sending a string of racists and sexist text messages.  

Kimbo then could not hold down a starting place for Cardiff City in with two managers coming in a short space of time. The latter was a man named Russell Slade who had been brought in to trim the wage bill after relegation and Kimbo was one of the players to be released. 

Malky Mackay the manager who was responsible for bringing him to British football signed the South Korean for his new club Wigan Athletic. However, despite playing 18 times and scoring twice for Wigan Athletic Kimbo was released having only been at the club 4 months. He was also again a victim of a new manager coming in and changing things up. 

May 2015 proved to be the last time fans in the UK got to see Kimbo as he headed back east to Japan. When he signed on after being a free agent for Matsumoto Yamaga, he went on to make 6 appearances for the club. However, he couldn't make the difference as he suffered relegation for the second time as a player. With Matsumoto Yamaga being relegated back to the J League 2. 

His release from the club resulted in him heading home and playing professional football in his home country for the first time when he signed for Jeonbuk Motors. In his time at Jeonbuk Motors he managed 44 appearances and 7 goals along with an Asian Champions League winners medal. 

Jeonbuk Motors won the Asian Champions League as they beat Al Ain of the UAE in the final in 2016. The prize for winning this was a place in the Club World Cup and he even managed a goal in this against South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.  

Unfortunately for fans in South Korea, the attacking midfielder headed back to Japan halfway through the 2016-2017 season to Kashiwa Reysol. Last season he then played 13 times in the second half of the season for them and helped the side to a second place finish in the J League. 

Kimbo is now back to playing at the top end of Japanese football and am sure this season he will be looking to add to his two winners medals by being successful with Kashiwa Reysol. Exciting news also for fans of the K League is we will see Kimbo in action against his former club as they are paired together in the Champions League. For those who have an interest, the tie in South Korea takes place next week on the 13th February at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium. 

Looking ahead to the 2018 World Cup Kimbo will, of course, look to be on the aeroplane, he has been in and out of the national sides starting 11 so he will need to impress to get a chance of starting games in this summer in Russia. 

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