An early goal for striker Cauley Woodrow on his first start for Gareth Southgate’s side had put England in control, but a second-half equaliser from Chang Min Lee rescued a point for the Koreans.
They will now watch England’s final match against Colombia with interest, having played all four of their matches and finishing with five points.
England U20 1-1 Korea Republic
Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
28 May 2014
Either a draw or win from that game will be good enough to take England into Sunday’s third-fourth play-off match in Avignon, due to the Three Lions’ superior goal difference.
But a defeat against the South American side, who have yet to win in this year’s competition, would mean an early exit.
England made the perfect start when captain James Ward-Prowse picked out Jake Forster-Caskey, whose first-time pass was straight into the path of Woodrow. The Fulham man calmly picked his spot to knock the ball past keeper Kim Dong Jun in the third minute.
And Woodrow could have had a second three minutes later, when Nathaniel Chalobah intercepted the ball in midfield before picking him out, but this time Dong Jun was equal to his shot.
It took Korea 23 minutes to find their first real sight of goal, when midfielder Ryu Seung Woo took aim from 25 yards and had Jonathan Bond back-pedalling, but his dipping effort flew just over the bar.
And Bond had to make his only save of the first half shortly after that, as Woo hit the target this time with a low drive only to find the Watford keeper was well placed to collect.
Southgate made one change at the break, with Solly March replacing Brad Smith on the left as the Three Lions went in search of a second goal.
But it was the Koreans who started brightly as sub Cho Suk Jae saw a shot deflected wide two minutes after the re-start before Ahn Hyunbeom tried his luck from distance and found a similar outcome.
England really should have doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, as a burst forward from Eric Dier won the Three Lions a corner. Luke Garbutt’s flag-kick picked out Michael Keane in the middle, but he guided his header just wide of the post.
March then forced Dong Jun into a good save, after cutting in from the right and firing a sharp left-footer at goal.
That proved to be a crucial save as less than a minute later, Korea drew level when Chang Min Lee broke forward from midfield and struck a low shot at goal which Bond could only watch creep into the bottom corner.
Southgate’s side looked for an instant response and Redmond led the charge, beating Kim Yong Hwan before seeing his right-footer drift inches wide of the post.
The Norwich City man had another attempt and hit the target, but Dong Jun made another save to keep things level much to Redmond’s frustration.
Redmond’s cross from the left was then headed home by Woodrow with just three minutes left, but an offside flag was raised to deny England what would have been a crucial goal.
Jun saved his best for last though, as he pulled off a miraculous save to deny Woodrow again after Garbutt’s cross picked him out at the far post.
Woodrow’s header looked to have crossed the line, but the keeper somehow clawed it out and saved his side before Redmond’s follow-up was blocked.
That means all eyes now turn to Friday’s final group game with Colombia, where either a draw or win will be good enough to take England through.
England (4-1-4-1): 13 Jonathan Bond (Watford); 15 Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon), 6 Michael Keane (Manchester United), 16 Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), 3 Luke Garbutt (Everton); James Ward-Prowse (c) (Southampton); 11 Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), 14 Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), 4 Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), 12 Brad Smith (Liverpool); 19 Cauley Woodrow (Fulham).
Substitutes: 18 Solly March (Brighton & Hove Albion) for Smith 40, 20 Will Keane (Manchester United) for Forster-Caskey 64, 2 Tyias Browning (Everton) for Dier 67,
Substitutes not used: 1 Jack Butland (Stoke City), 5 Liam Moore (Leicester City), 7 Jordan Obita (Reading), 9 Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion), 10 Josh McEachran (Chelsea), 17 Jordan Cousins (Charlton Athletic).
Head coach: Gareth Southgate
Goals: Cauley Woodrow 3
Korea Republic (4-2-3-1): 1 Kim Dong Jun (Yon Sei Uni), 2 Sim Sang Min (FC Seoul), 5 Woo Ju Sung (Suwon Samsung), 4 Yeon Jei Min (c) (Suwon Samsung), 3 Kim Yong Hwan (In Cheon United); 6 Kim Sun Woo (Ul San Uni), 14 Shin Il Soo (Korea Uni); 7 Ryu Seung Woo (Bayer Leverkusen), 8 Lee Chang Min (Gyeong Nam), 11 Ahn Hyunbeom (Dong Guk Uni); 10 Moon Chang Jin (Pohang Steelers).
Substitutes: 19 Cho Suk Jae (Kon Kuk Uni) for Sunwoo 33, 20 Jang Hyunsoo (Yong In Uni) for Chang Jin 53, 17 Kang Sangwoo (Pohang Steelers) for Woo 64, 16 Oh Changhyeon (Dan Kook Uni) for Lee 69
Substitutes not used: 9 Kim Hyun (Jeju United), 12 Kang Yun Koo (Vissel Kobe), 13 Gam Han Sol (Kyung Hee Uni), 18 Lee Gwanghun (Pohang Steelers), 21 Lee Junhee (In Cheon Uni).
Head coach: Lee Kwang Jong.
Goal: Lee Changmin 54
Cautions: Sim Sang Min 15
Referee: M. Gamboa Latournerie (Chile).
Assistant referee: M. Maturana & M. Barraza Pardo (Chile)
Fourth official: M Penaloza Soto (Chile)