Korea United at 2018 ITTF Korea Open
The North & South Korean unified pairs have successfully made their debut at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Shinhan Korea Open that officially went underway today, 19 July 2018, in Daejeon (KOR).
The reunification, which came as part of the ITTF Foundation's Ping Pong Diplomacy programme to support solidarity through table tennis, was well received by the media and the local Korean crowd as they cheered on the North & South Korean players in unity, waving the Unified Korea flag.
The unified Korean pairs of LEE Sangsu (KOR) / PAK Sinhyok (PRK), KIM Song I (PRK) / SUH Hyowon (KOR), JANG Woojin (KOR) / CHA Hyo Sim (PRK) and CHOE Il (PRK) / YOO Eunchong (KOR) were all successful in making their way through 2 days of qualification to make the main draw.
JANG stated after navigating through a tough Round of 16draw with his partner CHA, "At first I was quite nervous and did not do as well as I hoped. Hyo Sim encouraged me and helped by taking the lead. It helped me relax and I managed to play better after that. It was nice playing with her as a team."
In another wonderful mixed doubles match, the pair of PAK Sinhyok and KIM Nam Hae (PRK) topped the number one seeds, Mima ITO and Masataka MORIZONO in 5 games to make the quarterfinals. The upset watched by the mass of fans cheering the Korean teams on.
Main draw action had begun with the doubles events being played out in the morning. However, there is a lot more action to come in the afternoon with the commencement of the singles events.
The Shinhan Korea Open will see the return of world number four Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) after his injury break that caused him to miss the action from the three ITTF World Tour events in Hong Kong, China and Japan after the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad earlier in May.
The top seed will face off with France's Enzo ANGLES in the round of 32 and is due to meet Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Jun MIZUTANI (JPN) in the next round if things went according to seeding.
Reigning World & Olympic Champion DING Ning will be looking to fight her way back to the top of the ITTF World Ranking after seeing her ranking fell due to inactivity on the international table tennis scene.
The current world number 12 will be playing against Portugal's YU Fu later today in the round of 32.
The Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Shinhan Korea Open is the fourth of six Platinum events on the ITTF World Tour, which is the top tier of the ITTF World Tour with the most prize money and world ranking points. Together with the six regular ITTF World Tour events, players compete to earn World Tour Standings points qualify for the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events at the one-million-dollar World Tour Grand Finals in December.
Main draw action for the Shinhan Korea Open begins today, 19 July 2018, with Mixed Doubles Final being played on Saturday, 21 July, and the remaining four Finals (Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles, Women's Singles & Men's Singles) Champions being crowned on Sunday, 22 July 2018.