SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — With plenty of European-based talent, South Korea has players with top-level experience and the quality to makes things happen on the field.
Chief among them may be Son Heung-min, a Bayer Leverkusen forward who can change games with his pace and shooting.
Other standouts include Sunderland playmaker Ki Sung-Yeung and Kim Young-kwon, a 24-year-old defender who is likely to be South Korea's next big export to Europe.
Here are five players to watch:
Potentially South Korea's game changer, forward Son Heung-min is ready to prove himself at the World Cup after making his name in the Bundesliga.
Transferred to Bayer Leverkusen last July for $14 million after three seasons at Hamburg, the 21-year-old Son has not been consistently excellent for his new team but when he has played well, he's played very well.
Son is a striker who likes to use his pace to sprint past defenders from deep and then shoot from distance. He tends to score in streaks. And if he can get into groove in Brazil, South Korea will possess a powerful weapon.
Not always used well in the past for the national team, Son has started to find his form under coach Hong Myung-bo.
Sunderland playmaker Ki Sung-yeung controls the tempo of the South Korean team, and after an impressive season for his club he is now regarded as one of the best passers in the Premier League.
Still only 25 but with 56 international appearances, Ki is approaching his peak and rarely gives the ball away.
The issue for South Korea coach Hong Myong-bo is whether to keep Ki deep, where he is a valuable outlet for defenders, or push him up the field where his passing can unlock backlines.
Marcello Lippi declared in 2013 that central defender Kim Young-kwon was good enough to play for Manchester United, one of the highest compliments that could be paid to a young Asian prospect.
Kim has been a star since joining Chinese team Guangzhou Evergrande in 2012, helping them to the 2013 Asian Champions League title.
Physically strong, good in the air and on the ground, the 24-year-old Kim occasionally is caught napping but is improving all the time and expected to be playing in Europe very soon.
The goalkeeping position is a worry for South Korea coach Hong Myong-bo, but 2010 custodian Jung Sung-ryung is likely to start ahead of Kim Seung-gyu.
Much depends on how Jung turns up.
The 'keeper during Seongnam's run to the 2010 Asian Champions League title seemed unbeatable, but any repeat of the clumsy performances of the second half of the 2013 K-League season could result in South Korea heading home early.
Arsenal striker Park Chu-young has only played seven minutes in the Premier League since joining the Gunners in August 2011 and spent this past season on loan to second-division club Watford to stay in shape.
Inactivity at Arsenal cost Park his international place, but before the move to London he was one of Asia's top strikers.
Now back in the team, Park scored from a fierce half-volley against Greece in March.
Clever and technically excellent, Park leads the line well and links up with the team's talented attackers.