by Ian Marshall, Editor
DPR Korea’s Pak Sin Hyok joins forces with Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu in the Men’s Doubles event; in the Women’s Doubles, colleague Kim Song I partners Suh Hyowon.
Similarly, in the Mixed Doubles competition, Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin partners DPR Korea’s Cha Hyo Sim, teammate Yoo Eunchong joins forces with Choe Il.
A positive move, it follows the initiative of the ITTF Foundation to promote understanding and solidarity.
“The ITTF is proud to support the reunification of the North and South Korean table tennis teams again at the Korean Open, after the historic unification of the teams at the World Championships in Halmstad. Table tennis has had a long history as a driver of peace and we are happy to open a new chapter of table tennis diplomacy to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Thomas Weikert, ITTF President
Lee Sangsu and Pak Sin Hyok occupy the no.5 seeded position in the Men’s Doubles event; arguably they are the best chance of a unified pairing success. Athletic, Lee Sangsu is right handed as opposed to Pak Sin Hyok who is a left hander. Significantly, he is a player in form; one month ago he retained his Men’s Singles title on home soil at the ITTF Challenge DPR Korea Open.
Equally Kim Song I and Suh Hyowon, form a most creditable partnership but they must compete in the qualification stage. Each right handed, both defensive players but considerably different. Kim Song I, like Pak Sin Hyok enjoyed success last month in Pyongyang, winning the Women’s Singles title for the third consecutive time. She is very secure and stable in her defensive qualities. Arguably, Suh Hyowon is the most attack minded defender.
Over the years when matters have been close and Korean defensive players involved, the philosophy has been focus on patience and backspin play; that could well prove the policy of Kim Song I and Suh Hyowon. Notably, partnering fellow defender and colleague, Ri Myong Sun, Kim Song won the Women’s Doubles title at the ITTF World Tour DPR Korea Open in both 2015 and 2016; such an accolade still awaits Suh Hyowon.
In the Mixed Doubles event, the combination of Jang Woojin and Cha Hyo Sim forms an intriguing combination. The right handed Jang Woojin is known for an electric forehand; partnering the left handed Cha Hyo Sim, he will have plenty of opportunities to execute his favourite stroke.
Meanwhile, Cho Il and Yoo Eunchong are both right handers, both attacking players; notably Choe Il partnered Pak Sin Hyok to Men’s Doubles success at the 2015 ITTF World Tour DPR Korea Open, before beating his colleague in the Men’s Singles final. Similar success awaits for Yoo Eunchong.
Both Cho Il and Yoo Eunchong as well as Cho Il and Yoo Eunchong must start proceedings in the qualification tournament.
The ITTF Foundation will continue the policy of unified Korean doubles pairs at future Seamaster ITTF World Tour tournaments.