05 Aug 2020

First staged in 1980, an ever present member of the ITTF World Tour since 2001, the Korea Open has been home to world class action for 40 years; it has provided its fair share of drama over the years, shock exits, nail-biting contests, thrilling encounters.

We turn back the clock, we reflect on five moments that stand out in the memory.

by Simon Daish

Fighting spirit sees Kim Kyungah secure comeback win (2005)

Upset, a word with a number of definitions, although the definition most commonly associated in sporting terms is “an unexpected result or situation.” In the 2005 women’s singles final between the host nation’s Kim Kyungah and Singapore’s Li Jiawei, we very much saw an unexpected situation pan out.

Trailing three games to one, the momentum in her opponent’s court, Kim showed tremendous fighting spirit to topple Li in seven games (11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-2, 12-10). Thus she became the home country’s first Korea Open women’s singles champion!

Jun Mizutani claims first gold at Hao Shuai’s expense (2009)

A name that table tennis fans all over the world respect for his services to the sport, Jun Mizutani ranks amongst the very best Japan has to offer. It was at the 2009 Korea Open in Seoul where he captured his first ever ITTF World Tour, or Pro Tour as it was known in those days, men’s singles title.

Just two months into his 20s, Mizutani enjoyed a marvellous campaign with stunning victories over Joo Saehyuk and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. However, it was Mizutani’s outing in the final that really put the cherry on the cake, prevailing in five games over China’s Hao Shuai (14-12, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10).

Jun Mizutani pictured at the 2009 Korea Open in Seoul
Qualifier to champion: Shen Yanfei shines in Incheon (2010)

Having only recently returned to the international stage after a two-year absence, it didn’t take Spain’s Shen Yanfei long to strike success with an incredible outing at the 2010 Korea Open in Incheon.

A rank outsider, not seeded, Shen not only negotiated the qualification process but also claimed huge scalps against 2005 finalists Kim Kyungah and Li Jiawei on her way to the title decider. In one of the closest fought contests seen at the tournament, Shen battled past Singapore’s Feng Tianwei 4-3 (8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 14-12). To this very day, Shen remains the only qualifier to win women’s singles gold at the Korea Open!

Shen Yanfei defied expectations to seal gold in 2010
Jang Woojin and Cha Hyo Sim make history (2018)

Iconic sporting moments come about every now and again; the world was witness to one of significance and great importance at this very event in 2018 as Korea Republic and DPR Korea joined forces to produce an upset that will live long in the memory.

Over 6,000 fans packed into the Chungmu Gymnasium in Daejeon to lend their support to the United Korea pair of Jang Woojin and Cha Hyo Sim. They defied the odds to beat China’s Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha (5-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-8); a truly historic occasion.

Cha Hyo Sim and Jang Woojin were simply unstoppable in 2018 (Photo: An Sungho)
Jeoung Youngsik stuns top seed Fan Zhendong (2019)

One of the biggest shocks came at last year’s edition of the Korea Open as Jeoung Youngsik captured the hearts of a nation with his top four finish in Busan.

Seeded 13th in the men’s singles draw, Jeoung caught the eye with his merciless straight games victory over 2018 triple crown champion Jang Woojin in the round of 16. However, it was Jeoung’s performance one round later that caused the biggest stir of the tournament – meeting top seed Fan Zhendong, a player who the Korean had never previously bested on the international stage, Jeoung recovered from a two games to one deficit to stun his Chinese counterpart 4-2 (11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 12-10).

What better feeling than beating one of the sport’s finest on home soil?

Jeoung Youngsik was responsible one of the biggest upsets of last year’s event (Photo: An Sungho)
World Tour Features Jun Mizutani Jang Woojin Jeoung Youngsik Cha Hyo Sim Shen Yanfei Kim Kyungah

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