by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The two teams did not relish the possibility of facing each other for a place in the semi-finals; discussions prior to the penultimate round encounter resulted in agreement between members of both the DPR Korea and Korea Republic delegations alongside the International Table Tennis Federation that a Unified Korea will progress to the semi-final stage.
At 11.00am on Friday 4th May they will meet the winners of the contest between Japan and Ukraine.
It is a move which has delighted Thomas Weikert, ITTF President.
“When I informed the Board of Directors about this development, the Unified Team received a standing ovation from the delegates who showed their sign of support for this historic move.” Thomas Weikert
The decision follows the country’s leaders’ pledge for “lasting peace” on the Korean Peninsula issued last week. Moreover, it portrays that table tennis is the perfect medium for promoting peace through sport.
Like, Thomas Weikert, Ju Jong Chol. President of the Table Tennis Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, welcomed the decision.
“This is the result of the strong support provided by the ITTF and IOC. We will do our best to get more successful results internationally in a joint effort between North and South Korea.” Ju Jong Chol
Undoubtedly it is a moment in history, one that Korea Republic’s Ryu Seungmin, the Athens 2004 Olympic Games gold medallist and member of the International Olympic Committee applauded.
“This is a big historical decision for both our countries. This is table tennis history so we are very happy. I would like to thank the ITTF for their strong support. This is an important statement to promote peace between our countries through table tennis.” Ryu Seunmin
It has been a significant year for the two Korean countries in joining forces. They made history by marching together at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games earlier in the year in Pyeongchang, a most significant sign of unity. It is thanks to the International Olympic Committee that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is participating in Halmstad. They received Olympic Solidarity support.
Significantly, it is the first that Korea will have played as a unified team since the 1991 World Championships in Chiba when Hong Cha Ok, Hyun Junghwa, Li Bun Hui and Yu Sun Bok combined to win the Women’s Team title; the silver medallists being China who selected from Chen Zihe, Deng Yaping, Gao Jun and Qiao Hong.
It is an event An Jaehyun, the coach of the Korea Republic Team remembers.
“I’m very emotional, it is the first time since Chiba, I feel I am in Chiba. The agreement to unify underlines the power of table tennis.” An Jaehyun
Later in 2012 directed by Moon Hyunsung, the celebrated event was produced as film named “As One”.
In Halmstad the players representing Korea Republic are Jeon Jihee, Kim Jiho, Suh Hyowon, Yang Haeun and Yoo Eunchong; for DPR Korea it is Cha Hyo Sim, Choe Hyon Hwa, Kim Nam Hae and Kim Song I.
The five players who will form the Unified Korea Team will be advised shortly.