Since the late 1990s, more than 1,000 South Korean football students have attended Brazil's 1,000-odd football schools. More short-stay students have also been going to other soccer strongholds like England, France and Spain; recently, cheaper China has grown in popularity.
It is estimated that some 800 Korean youngsters are studying football abroad, or roughly five percent of the elementary, middle and high school footballers registered with the Korea Football Association.
Experts say pinning all your hopes on training abroad is dangerous. "We've never surveyed what curriculums the students learn by and how much their skills improve,” says Cha Yeong-il of the KFA.
“Park Chu-young, who started the boom in students going overseas to learn football, was a genius to begin with," he told Chosun.