by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In contests involving players from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Women’s Doubles title was secured at the final expense of Ri Hyon Sim and Ri Mi Gyong (11-4, 11-9, 4-11, 7-11, 11-8), before the Women’s Singles title was clinched with victory over Cha Hyo Sim (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5).
Listed at no.25 on the current Women’s World Rankings, as opposed to her adversary, named one hundred places lower at no.125, Kim Song I, the highest rated player on duty in the whole tournament, was the clear favourite for gold.
Furthermore, it was the second time that she had beaten Cha Hyo Sim in a Pyongyang final; in 2015 in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, after losing to her colleague in the group stage, she turned the tables to emerge successful in the title decider.
Pertinently, the win meant that Kim Song I retained her title, having beaten Ri Myong Sun in the 2016 final.
Three titles in Pyongyang in singles events. It is now three in Women’s Doubles competitions. In 2015 and 2016, Kim Song I had joined forces with Ri Myong Sun to emerge successful; on both occasions beating Kim Hye Song and Ri Mi Gyong in the final.
Overall when considering the ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series, it was the fourth time that a pair from DPR Korea has won a Women’s Doubles title; at the 2001 English Open in Chatham, Kim Hyang Mi and Kim Hyon Hui secured the top prize. They beat Japan’s Miyuki Nishi and Yuka Nishii in the final.
A total of six titles won on home soil; also Kim Song I can add one more to the career tally; in 2012 she claimed the Women’s Singles title on the ITTF World Tour in Sweden, on that occasion she beat Russia’s Polina Mikhailova in the final.
Kim Song I is the most successful player from DPR Korea when ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series tournaments are considered as a whole; the only other occasion when a player representing DPR Korea has won such a Women’s Singles title is 2001 in Qatar. On that occasion, Kim Hyon Hui beat Croatia’s Tamara Boros in the final.
Photos: Ri Myong Song