Ulsan haven’t won the K League 1 title since 2005. They have finished second to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in each of the last three seasons, and they hold the league record for the most second-place finishes with ten.

Ulsan are on course to win the championship after 15 games this season. Ulsan has a 10-point advantage in first place over Jeju United after a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Suwon FC on Saturday.

There are still 23 games to go, but Ulsan’s domination thus far, along with lacklustre play from clubs below them, makes the 10-point difference appear wider than it is.

Ulsan extended their unbeaten streak to five games, with four wins and a draw, thanks to second-half goals by Valeri Qazaishvili and Jun Amano.

Suwon FC, on the other hand, hasn’t won in a half-dozen games and is now in 11th position, second from bottom, with 12 points.

In another match on Saturday, Jeju defeated Jeonbuk 2-0 in a battle for second place. Joo Min-kyu, the 2021 scoring champion, scored both goals for Jeju and moved up to third position in the scoring race with nine. Joo is two goals behind Incheon United’s Stefan Mugosa.

This defeat ended Jeonbuk’s nine-match unbeaten streak, dropping them to third place with 25 points.

Prior to the triumph, Ulsan head coach Hong Myung-bo stated that he was not paying attention to how Jeonbuk or other contenders have been playing recently, adding: “This is our 15th game of the season. More than half of the season is still left. We only need to focus on what needs to be done.”

Ulsan then took care of business and will enter the two-week international break comfortably atop the standings. South Korea is slated to play four friendly matches between Thursday and June 14, hence the K League 1 will be suspended until June 17.

Ulsan’s first match after the break will be against Jeonbuk on June 19.

“We’ll have to regroup physically and mentally over the next few days, and make sure we come back refreshed,” Hong said in his postmatch presser. “We won’t just be getting ready for the Jeonbuk match. We’ll have to prepare games in late June and early July.”

As for the double-digit cushion in first place, Hong said he didn’t think the large lead would affect his team one way or another.

“Unless we can truly dominate the competition, it will be difficult to win the title. We’ve had firsthand experience with it,” Hong said. “I think we’re strong enough to keep going and win the championship on our own, without getting help from other teams.”