South Korea set up a potential quarter-final meeting with Great Britain despite being held to a disappointing draw against Gabon at Wembley.
Arsenal's Park Chu-young and Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won were both guilty of missing easy chances and the quality of the Asian side's finishing - and their play in general - was very poor.
Gabon came the closest to clinching victory in the second half when Levy Madinda hit a post, but the draw was enough to see Korea through to the last eight after Mexico beat Switzerland at St James' Park.
Should Britain remain top of Group A after their game against Uruguay tonight, they will meet Korea at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
A vast number of Koreans among the near 77,000 crowd excitedly welcomed their team's arrival, but the game was brought to a halt six seconds in when Park put in a crunching tackle on Merlin Tandjigora that eventually saw the Gabon midfielder substituted.
The Arsenal man was in the thick of the action moments later when he latched on to Yun Suk-young's lofted the ball over the top but his weak shot rolled in to Didier Ovono's hands.
Baek Sung-dong intercepted a dreadful pass from Ovono and laid the ball to Ja-Cheol koo but the Gabon goalkeeper made up for his error by tipping the Korean skipper's shot wide.
A crucial interception from Mabikou Boussoughou denied Baek just before the break and Korea continued to dominate after half-time, with Baek wasting a brilliant opportunity after 58 minutes.
Levy Madinda almost made the Asian side pay two minutes later when he found space on the edge of the area before striking a swirling effort that clipped the outside of Ovono's left-hand post.
Sunderland's Ji came off the bench and made an immediate impact, shrugging off his marker to cross for Park but the Arsenal man could not jump high enough to reach the pass.
But Ji then shot weakly over the bar with nine minutes left and Kim Hyun-sung skied a scissor-kick as Korea wasted yet more chances to kill off the match.