Koreas Form Unified Table Tennis Team in Surprise Move in Sweden

  • Koreas Form Unified Table Tennis Team in Surprise Move in Sweden

Koreas Form Unified Table Tennis Team in Surprise Move in Sweden

The move follows the North and South Korean leaders' pledge for "lasting peace" to the Korea peninsula just last week, which portrays that table tennis is the ideal medium to promote peace through sport.

The last time that a Unified Korea team played the World Table Tennis Championships was 1991 in Chiba, Japan where they shocked defending Champion China to be crowned World Champions.

Weikert said the request to form the unified team was accepted at a meeting on Thursday, with all the other teams which can play North or South Korea in the semi-finals agreeing to the merger. Using table tennis as a platform to promote this pledge was looked upon with great admiration worldwide.

Ryu said there was no discussion on a possible joint team prior to the world championships.

At the Winter Olympics in February, the Koreans had fielded a joint women's hockey team and had also walked under a unified flag in the opening ceremony. But the joint team will now play the victor of a match between Japan and Ukraine in the semifinals. And since there is no third-place match, the two losers of the semifinals will each get a bronze medal. The South Korean players are: Jeon Ji-hee, Kim Ji-ho, Suh Hyo-won, Yang Ha-eun and Yoo Eun-chong.

All three players lost their matches against their Japanese opponents but the moment proved to be a major breakthrough in the ongoing attempts of Korean unification. The North Koreans are Cha Hyo-sim, Choe Hyon-hwa, Kim Nam-hae and Kim Song-i. The two Koreas were to compete against each other earlier in a quarterfinal match, with Japan waiting in the semis.

Weikert said, who added there was no external pressure to combine the Korean teams and the ITTF has informed the International Olympic Committee of the news.

The unified team consists of nine players, five from South Korea and four from the North.

The two Koreas are also trying to have the combined team at this year's Asian Games in Indonesia.