In a pulsating final played in front of more than 70,000 supporters at Stadium Australia, Sydney, the Socceroos took the lead against the run of play just before half time thanks to a stunning goal by Massimo Luongo.
Luongo, a 22 year old midfielder who plays for Swindon Town in the English third tier, spun away from his marker before crashing a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, the first goal Korea had conceded in the entire tournament.
Australia looked to have held out for 90 minutes and a famous Asian Cup title -- their first since switching to the Asian Football Confederation from the smaller less competitive Oceania Football Confederation -- until Bayer Leverkusen striker Son Hueng-min equalized in the first minute of injury time, silencing the boisterous home crowd and sending the final to extra time.
But Australia stormed back and James Troisi shot home from close range after a defensive mix up to seal the victory.
"It's a massive moment for Australian football," former Everton and New York Red Bulls forward Tim Cahill told AFP after the game.
"All I can recall is all those people who didn't believe in us," he added.
"This is one of the biggest moments in sport for Australia because this is an Asian tournament that's so difficult to win -- and a tournament we were never supposed to win with this group of players."
Cahill's last stand?
The tournament is likely to be Cahill's last after a glittering career in English and international soccer.
But Socceroos' coach Ange Postecoglou believes that Cahill still has much to offer the team, with qualification for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia next on the agenda.
"I'd be surprised," Postecoglou said of Cahill's rumored retirement.
"He's had a fantastic tournament. He hasn't said anything to me. I haven't had any discussion with him about his future and I'd be surprised if I had to because again he was a very important part of our team."
If Cahill was part of the past, one of the last members of Australia's so-called "golden generation" that qualified for three World Cup finals in a row, then goal scoring hero Massimo Luongo could be the future. He was named player of the tournament, having been involved in six goals over the course of the tournament.
Switch to AFC
The victory was also vindication of Australia's decision to join the Asian Football Confederation.
Up until 2005 Australia had competed in the Oceania Football Confederation -- the smallest of FIFA's six confederations -- with little in the way of true competition aside from the occasional matches against New Zealand.
The OFC also offers just half a qualification spot for the World Cup finals: a playoff match against tough opponents in South America or Asia.
A 31-0 victory against American Samoa in a qualification match for the 2002 World Cup finals -- a world record that still stands today -- forced Australian soccer to focus on joining the AFC, which they did in 2005.
West Asia unhappy?
As well as holding Asia's most prestigious international title, club side Sydney Wanderers famously won last year's Asian Champions League final against Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, prompting allegations that not everyone in Asian soccer is happy with Australia's success.
After the Socceroos beat the United Arab Emirates in the semifinal, one leading figure appeared to express concern that Australia had taken one of the AFC's prized World Cup qualification spots yet had given little back in return.
"Yes, it is true, there are indications that confirm that there is a desire among West Asian federations to remove Australia from the AFC," Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini president of the AFC, said in an interview with Emiraiti newspaper Al Ittihad.
"I also know that the Arabs are not the only ones that are not convinced with the value of Australia staying within the Asian football family."
Sheikh Salman later denied the comments, saying they had been "manipulated".
"I'm really stunned with the timing to bring this topic out. It's a false topic," he told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper.
"To read a story like this is really sad because there's no truth in it. The success of this tournament has exceeded our expectations. I won't let a story like this affect the success of the tournament we had in Australia."
After Australia's victory Sheikh Salman was quick to praise the team and the country's hosting of the tournament, telling the AFC's website that the "competition that has been remarkable in spirit and in passion, and we have Australia to thank for that."