After a dull first half, the Eastern Europeans fought back to earn a point from their first game against Hong Myung-bo's side.
Russia fought back to draw 1-1 with the Korea Republic at the World Cup, after a howler from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
Akinfeev and opposite number Jung Sung-Ryong had endured difficult nights in terms of catching the ball, and it would prove to be to the detriment of Fabio Capello's side in Cuiaba.
The CSKA Moscow gloveman tried to catch a goal-bound effort from substitute Lee Keun-Ho but it bounced off his hands and into the net on 68 minutes to hand Hong Myung-Bo's men the lead at the Arena Pantanal.
Another sub Aleksandr Kerzhakov then came to Akinfeev's and Russia's rescue six minutes later, and tied the nation's all-time goal-scoring record with Vladimir Beschastnykh (26 goals).
Kerzhakov tucked away an equalizer just three minutes after coming on, after a goal-mouth scramble created by a dangerous ball in from another substitute Alan Dzagoev.
Russia were more commanding in possession in the early stages, however, too many turnovers saw them susceptible on the counterattack.
South Korea had the best chance of the opening 25 minutes, when Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heung-Min went on a run from midfield to the edge of the area, only to spray his shot high and wide under little pressure.
The Russians set out to implement their banal style synonymous to Capello-coached sides, as they tried to pass their way around the Korean defense.
However, Russia began to create chances as they game opened up just after the half-hour mark.
Ki Sung-Yong's crude challenge on Aleksandr Samedov earned him a yellow card, and Sergei Ignashevich's powerful effort from the dead ball in the 32nd minute was on target - forcing Korean custodian Jung Sung-Ryong to parry.
South Korea's response was strong, as Koo's 34th-minute effort deflected agonisingly wide of the post for the Asian nation.
Russia was the first to attack after the restart, earning a corner in the first minute back, only for captain Vasili Berezutski to hit his header into the side netting.
The Koreans quickly found their footing, and Berezutski's opposite skipper Koo almost picked out the top corner in the 50th minute - with Akinfeev swiping the effort clear.
Ki was the next to test the CSKA Moscow man, drilling an on-target strike that bounced in front of him, but Akinfeev was equal to the task - as he was for Yoon Suk-Young's deflected free kick moments later, that he dived on before the cavalry arrived.
Russia needed to show something up forward, and it was Dmitri Kombarov who almost provided the opener - his long-range effort on 62 minutes giving Jung some worries, with the Suwon Bluewings man bundling the ball away to safety.
Kombarov almost found Aleksandr Kokorin in the area minutes later but his well-weighted cross was heavily fisted clear by a diving Jung.
And the goalkeepers' difficult night got worse when Akinfeev calamitously fumbled into his own net, Lee Keun-Ho's hard but routine shot bouncing off his gloves and over his head.
Aleksander Kerzhakov popped up to earn Russia a point from close range and tie his country's all-time record, poaching a loose ball in the box just after coming on. It was 12 years after his last World Cup appearance, an 82nd minute substitue cameo in Russia's 3-2 Group H loss to Belgium in 2002