ABOUT THE ZAINICHI KOREANS
The team of United Koreans in Japan represents the Zainichi Koreans, a group of Korean people living in Japan.
“Zainichi” is a Japanese word for “foreigners who stay in Japan”, but the term “Zainichi Koreans” refers to long-term Korean residents in Japan who, while tracing their roots to the Korean Peninsula, granted permanent stay in Japan. Their population is estimated around 440,000.
The modern flow of Koreans to Japan started with the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876 and increased dramatically after Japan occupied Korea in 1910. When Japan capitulated at the end of World War II in 1945, more than 2 million Koreans were living in Japan. However, after the war, they lost their Japanese citizenship and subsequently half of them returned to the Korean Peninsula. 1 million of them remained in Japan, and their descendants are now called as “Zainichi Koreans”.
Practically every major city in Japan has its own Korean community. The largest of them being Ikuta Ward in Osaka with the second one in Shin-Okubo, near Shinjuku. Still, you may enjoy delicious and exotic Korean food in the restaurants all over Japan not only in the Korean communities. Korean barbecue, invented by Zainichi Koreans, is one of the most popular Korean dishes. Shopping Korea-made goods and enjoying casual snacks or sweets at stalls are also great options in Korean towns of Japan.
United Koreans in Japan (UKJ)
The United Koreans in Japan (UKJ), representing Zainichi Koreans, was established and became a member of CONIFA in 2015. They entered the World Football Cup in 2016, finishing 7th from the 12 participating teams.
The biggest stars of the UKJ team are Yong-Hak An, Min-Choel Son and Tong-Jun Lee.
Zainichi Koreans are educated in ethnic schools from kindergarten to university, learning Korean language and culture besides general subjects. Almost all the boys enjoy football from an infant age, and not only boys but all the community members share their enthusiasm about football.
Many Zainichi Korean footballers play as professionals footballers in Japan, Hongkong and in the United Kingdom.