“I appreciate the attention, but I need to improve my skills.”
He joined Gyeongnam FC in the K League 2 this season and has only played in one league game, but he is already famous among fans. This is Yoo Jun-ha (22, Gyeongnam), the “Seoul National University Neymar.
He gained attention for his unique resume as a professional soccer player from Seoul National University. He was a guest on tvN’s “You Quiz on the Block” episode 194, “Sasang Determination,” which aired on March 17.
A week after the episode aired, Yoo Jun-ha started as a frontline striker in the FA Cup fourth round (round of 16) match against Incheon United on April 24. Although he had to watch his team lose 0-3, he lived up to his nickname of “SNU Neymar” with several dazzling dribbles against the first team 안전놀이터.
The game against Incheon was his fourth match for Gyeongnam, and Yoo Jun-ha felt ‘inadequate’. He told Mixzone after the game, “I was outclassed by first division players in terms of physicality and stamina. “It was my first time playing in a soccer-specific stadium, and it was refreshing to be close to the stands,” he said.
While playing soccer as a child, Yu Junhua didn’t neglect his studies. After training, he would study and read in his spare time. As a student at Gangneung Jungang High School, he was ranked first in his class for all three years, which led to his admission to the Department of Physical Education at Seoul National University.
For him, joining a professional team was perhaps more difficult than studying. While attending Seoul National University, Yoo Jun-ha never let go of his soccer dreams and joined Nowon United in the K4 League in 2021. After four years as a student and a player, he became a professional in December 2022, wearing a Gyeongnam jersey.
Because of his unique background, appearing on a popular broadcast program was an unforgettable experience for Yoo. “I was really nervous because it was my first time (broadcasting) in front of so many cameras. Fortunately, the two MCs (Yoo Jae-seok and Cho Se-ho) made me feel relaxed and reacted well. I think I had a different experience,” he said. “Even after the broadcast, they said, ‘We will continue to support you. Thank you very much for doing a good job.”
Yoo Jun-ha holds a number of unusual records. He is the first Seoul National University student to graduate from Gangneung Jungang High School, an industrial high school, in 40 years, and the first Seoul National University player to debut in the K League in 32 years. Previously, Hwang Bo-kwan (1988), Yang Ik-jeon (1989), and Lee Hyun-seok (1991) played professional soccer at Seoul National University.
“I have a sense of responsibility to do well,” he said. I’m proud of myself,” he said. “I’m actually a rookie who has played one league game, but it’s thanks to the school that so many fans are showing interest. I’m grateful for that. But I think I need to work harder and improve my skills.”
Yoo has a 4.0 GPA out of 4.3 at Seoul National University. But professional life is another story. “There is competition for grades within Seoul National University, but I don’t think there is any direct competition. Professionals compete within their teams and compete in leagues. It’s a little harder (than university) because it’s direct competition. I think I have to work hard,” he emphasized. His goals for this season are to play 15 games and score five offensive points.