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South Korea beat Japan to take bronze - and avoid military service

South Korea beat Japan 2-0 to take bronze in the Olympics men's football tournament in Cardiff on Friday night.

The victory also earned Korea's players the opportunity to avoid military service. The country's medal winners are exempt from 21 months of duty that South Korean men are required to do before they are 29 - as their achievements are viewed as beneficial for the nation.

The win also opens the door for many Korean players who are keen on a move to Europe.

"I'm very happy to win the bronze medal and everybody here will now get a new chance by being exempted from military service," said Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young, scorer of Korea's opener. "That's what I'm really pleased about because that was our aim at the start of the tournament."

Kim Bok Yung, who will play in the Championship for Cardiff next season, says avoiding military service "makes me as happy as winning the bronze medal."

'One of the happiest moments of my life'

He added: "This is one of the happiest moments of my life. It is a big problem for Korean players, but now I have avoided it. I will have no problem staying in Europe."

Victory secured South Korea's status as only the second Asian nation to win an Olympic men's football medal - as they beat the 1968 bronze medallists.

Park gave Korea the lead with a low strike in the 38th minute and Korea's captain Koo Ja-Cheol added the second from 15 yards in the 57th minute after latching on to a huge punt by Korea goalkeeper Jung Sungryong.

Japan skipper Maya Yoshida had a late header ruled out for a foul on Sungryong, but Korea were worthy winners.

Korea's physical approach was key to their success as Japan struggled to get a foothold in the game and Ki Sungyueng, Oh Jaesuk and Koo were all booked for cynical fouls on Japan dangerman Yuki Otsu.

By Mark Roach

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