Side boosts World Cup qualifying campaign after fighting out 1-1 draw with regional rivals.
Korea clinched their second East Asian championship here Saturday as they fought out a 1-1 draw with Asia's number-ones Japan, giving a boost to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
The fierce regional rivals finished the four-nation tournament level on points at five each and on goal difference. But South Korea, the winners of the inaugural 2003 event, won the title by virtue of goals scored.
South Korea had to wait until hosts and defending champions China came from behind to beat North Korea 3-1 in the final game. It was China's first win and North Korea had drawn in their first two matches.
"We achieved what we had planned," said South Korean coach Huh Jung-Moo whose squad missed three English Premier League stars and included nine uncapped players.
"Our plan was to narrow the gap between the levels of domestic players and overseas-based players," Huh added.
The four regional rivals were to battle World Cup qualifiers on March 26 with the two Koreas fighting in the northern capital of Pyongyang after winning their first matches earlier this month.
China battled to a 1-1 draw against Asian champions Iraq in a "group of death" with Australia and Qatar while Japan whipped Thailand 4-1 in a relatively easy group.
In the showdown of regional giants, Yeom Ki-Hun scored for South Korea in the 15th minute as he flicked in a cross from Park Won-Jae in the absence of injury-hit key strikers Park Chu-Young and Ko Ki-Gu.
But Japan equalised on 68 minutes when Koji Yamase, who was also on target in Wednesday's ill-tempered clash with China, buried his 20-yard shot from a corner.
"I am not happy with the situation. We led the match but we gave it up again," Huh said. "One of the reasons is the lack of experience of some members on the squad. They have no experience in protecting a lead".
Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who took over following Ivica Osim's serious stroke in November, lamented a forgettable tournament by Japan ranked 35th in the world and best in Asia.
"I regret it, not because we could not beat South Korea but because we have come here to win the title," Okada said.
"In the first half, we were too soft."
Okada could not call up Celtic star kicker Shunsuke Nakamura at the height of the European season. Japan's top three strikers including former Frankfurt player Naohiro Takahara could not come due to poor form or injury.
North Korea got ahead in the 34th minute when Ji Yun-Nam sank a left-footer into the farside corner after faking past a Chinese defender.
Zhu Ting equalised on the stroke of the half time, kicking in a close-range shot past North Korean goalkeeper Ri Myong-Guk one minute after Qu Bo banged away a 20-metre screamer on a back pass from a free kick.
Wang Dong put the hosts up 2-1 when he sank a left-footer from inside the box 10 minutes after the break.
North Korea wasted a chance in the 77th minute when Kim Kum-Il dribbled toward the goal unmarked but he could only kicked straight into tough Chinese custodian Zong Lei.
Hao Junmin scored a get-ahead goal two minutes before stoppage time on a 20-metre free kick.