South Korea defender Minjae Kim has slotted in seamlessly at Bayern Munich. - © IMAGO/MIS
South Korea defender Minjae Kim has slotted in seamlessly at Bayern Munich. - © IMAGO/MIS

Minjae Kim: Who is the Bayern Munich and South Korea central defender?


Wanted by Jose Mourinho and a whole host of big-name European clubs, Minjae Kim joined Bayern Munich as one of the most coveted central defenders in football in summer 2023. lifts the lid on the all-action South Korea international...

Data correct as of 4 January 2024

Minjae Kim

Age: 27
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Central defender
Country: South Korea (55 caps)

Key stats

Kim penned a five-year deal with Bayern, reward for a short but sweet one-season stint at Napoli. The 6'2" centre-back played in 35 of 38 Serie A fixtures in 2022/23 as I Partenopei lifted their first league title since 1989/90. Underpinning the club's efforts, Kim won 63 percent of his challenges and was only dribbled past five times (best in Serie A for players who played at least 24 games). He also boasted a pass completion rate of 91 percent across all competitions. No outfield player in Europe's top five leagues made as many forward passes in 2022/23 (1,057) and he ranked third for most passes that reached their target (2,547).

Kim made a further nine appearances during Napoli's run to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, adding to his handful of 2021/22 Europa and Europa Conference League outings in the colours of former club Fenerbahce. He's duly become an ever-present at Bayern, winning more aerial challenges than any of his teammates after 16 matches (57).

Earlier on in his career, the Bayern No.3 won two K-League titles with Jeonbuk Hyunadi Motors. The naturally right-footed defender also lifted Asian Games Gold at U23 level for South Korea, whose senior team he represented at the 2022 World Cup and will underpin at the 2023 Asian Cup.

Plays a bit like: Jaap Stam

Kim quickly became known as 'the Monster' in Napoli circles, on account of his uncompromising approach in the tackle, but he's so much more than a defensive henchman. The South Korea international boasts exceptional positional awareness, is strong in possession and no slouch in a footrace. It's still early days, but there are some clear similarities with Dutch colossus Jaap Stam, who helped Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United overcome Bayern in the 1998/99 Champions League final.

Harry Kane (r.) scores the goals for Bayern, but Kim (r.) helps keep them out at the other end. - IMAGO/Ulmer

Did you know?

Kim might be accustomed to taking from opposition players, but he's not afraid to give, either. Affectionately called 'the Great Giant' in his homeland, the Bayern defender is an ambassador of the Purme Foundation, a charity committed to improving the lives of disabled children in South Korea. He also donated €75,000 towards emergency projects for children affected by the 2023 earthquake in Turkey.

What they're saying

"He brings a lot to the team. He's grounded and the complete defender." - Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel

"I wanted to sign Minjae Kim when I was at Tottenham, but it wasn't possible in the end. Now look at Kim and his level, he's a top player." - Roma's Mourinho

"He does at least 20 unbelievable things per game. When he runs with the ball at his feet, he's inside the opposition penalty area within five seconds." - Luciano Spalletti, Kim's former coach at Napoli

"There's no doubt that he is doing extraordinary things, as a technical leader and personality. What a talent." - former Man United and South Korea attacker Park Ji-sung