by Simon Daish
Seeded 14th out of 16 teams in total, on paper DPR Korea was dealt a difficult draw being placed alongside no.6 seeds Poland and no.11 seeds Hong Kong.
However, was the situation in reality that it was the reverse scenario? Poland and Hong Kong had drawn the short straw?
In early September at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Ulaanbaator; Pyon Song Gyong, Kim Kum Yong and Kim Un Song, the players on duty in Korat, had finished runners up in the junior girls’ team event. Only China was able to stop their progress!
Equally, in the junior girls’ singles competition in Ulaanbaator, in round one Pyon Song Gyong had extended China’s Wu Yangchen, the top seed in Korat, the full seven games distance (11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-7), as also had Kim Kum Yong when facing Japan’s Haruna Ojio (8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5). Meanwhile, Kim Un Song reached the quarter-finals losing to Kyoka Idesawa, also from Japan (8-11, 11-7, 2-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5).
Like Wu Yangchen, Haruna Ojio and Kyoka Idesawa are major names in Korat.
At 10.00am DPR Korea faced Hong Kong. Recovering from a slow start Pyon Song Gyeong fought back from an early deficit to beat Chau Wing Sze in the opener (8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5), before Kim Kum Yong’s commanding 3-0 victory over Lee Ka Yee (11-8, 11-5, 11-3) doubled DPR Korea’s advantage. Nerves of steel from Kim Un Song in her encounter with Ng Wing Lam (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6) secured the win.
A positive start, but a bigger challenge was still to come for DPR Korea as group favourites Poland provided the opposition in the second fixture of the day.
Fielding all three players in exactly the same order as the opening contest, once again it was Pyon Song Gyeong who put DPR Korea in front beating Anna Wegrzyn (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 13-11).
Another Wegrzyn stepped up to the table in the second match as Katarzyna faced Kim Kum Yong. She registered her second straight games success of the day (17-15, 11-6, 11-7) to move the no.14 seeds to within touching distance of qualification. Kim Un Song put the result beyond any doubt, seeing off Aleksandra Michalak (11-7, 11-7, 11-5).
Two fixtures contested and two victories for DPR Korea to celebrate; top spot and a quarter-final place is assured. China, Japan, Russia and Chinese Taipei are all possible opponents in the last eight, all of which will do well to avoid this vibrant DPR Korea team who could go far in Korat.