The July 20-28 four-nation event is organised by the East Asian Football Federation and features three teams who have booked their tickets from Asia for the 2014 World Cup -- South Korea, Australia, and Japan - as well as holders China.
Playing under new coach Hong Myung-bo for the first time and in front of a passionate home crowd in Seoul, South Korea were denied by the profligacy of their strikers and numerous saves by Socceroos goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.
In the absence of their Europe-based stars, including Bayer Leverkusen striker Son Heung-min, the hosts dominated possession from the outset and came close in the 15th minute but Galekovic forced a low save to deny Yun Il-lok.
Soon after, the Adelaide United goalkeeper kept out Lee Seung-gi's long-range effort and denied Yun twice more, including from a point-blank range just before half-time.
The Koreans continued to test Galekovic in the second half and he was finally beaten in the 76th minute by substitute Yeom Ki-hun's shot but the post came to his rescue.
China, who will also be under a new coach after caretaker Fu Bo replaced the ousted Jose Antonio Camacho, will take on the continent's top-ranked side Japan, who have included all home-based players in the squad, on Sunday.