Despite an impressive first season with Home United, the Korean contingent at the Bishan club is set to bid jagbyeol.
The club had confirmed the departure of Chun Jae Woon, Choi Chul Woo and Jun Woo Keun.
Former Korea Republic international Choi had joined Home at the beginning of the season, while Chun and Jun were recruited midway into the campaign.
While Chun is understood to be looking for a move to a top-flight club in East Asia, the curtains appear to have come down for Choi and Jun as far as their playing careers are concerned.
Choi turns 33 at the end of November, while Jun will be 34 in February.
“All our Korean players are going back to Korea,” Lee told S-league website.
“Two of them, Choi and Jun, told me they want to be coaches in Korea, and that is why they have decided to retire now. For our No.10 (Chun), he wants to play with another team in Korea or Japan.
“He is a good player, and he deserves the chance to play for a bigger team. Although I want to keep him for one more year, it is out of my hands and I respect his decision.
“I want to bring in another player from Korea at least, and I will rebuild the team. Then I will show everyone what Home United can do next year!”
The loss of Chun is an especially notable one, after the midfielder had starred for the Protectors since debuting for them on 8 June.
The 29-year-old had been frozen out at K-League outfit Jeju United due to a contractual dispute, but did not need long to fit in at his new club.
Alongside the Singaporean trio of Shahril Ishak, Shahdan Sulaiman and Shi Jiayi, Chun was part of an irrepressible attacking line that had launched Home into an unbeaten run right up to the final day of the season.
The departures of Shahdan and then Shahril meant that he could not end his time in Singapore with a winners’ medal, however, as Home had to settle for third place in the S.League after leading the table at various points of the campaign.
But Chun’s own quality, forged from a career in the K-League that had also seen him turn out for Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, made him a standout character, especially whenever he lined up for free kicks.
That earned him much praise from his coach Lee, who lamented his misfortune not to be able to hold on to the talent but admitted a move to a more lucrative league was fair reward for a class act like Chun.
“Jae Woon has played in the K-League, where players have a different level,” he noted.
“That’s why, after they win one game, they take bonuses of ten thousand, twenty thousand. Good players like Jae Woon can earn that kind of money, more than we can give him here, although I had hoped the club can afford to keep him.
“It is very difficult to take good players from the K-League for a long time, because they also want to go to places like Europe and Japan where they can get good money. If you look at big clubs everywhere, they pay the best money to keep the best players.
“But Jae Woon has made good use of his time here in Singapore. I wanted him to come here to keep training and keep getting match practice after some problems his agent had with his club in Korea, and now it is time for him to go out again and do what he wants.
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