Two Koreas form unified team at table tennis world championships

Harimoto Tomokazu of Japan serves to Gao Ning of Singapore at the fifth round of Men's group match during the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad Sweden
North and South Korea combine teams rather than play each other at table tennis worlds

07 May, 2018

The two Koreas are forming a unified team at the women's world table tennis championships.

The Korean team went on to lose 3-0 to Japan in Friday's semifinal, but the result seemed to matter little as players from the two countries - Kim Song I (PRK), Yang Haeun (KOR) and Jeon Jinhee (KOR) - embraced after defeat.

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 ideal medium to be promoting peace through sport.

North Korea and South Korea had told the umpires that they would not want to compete on the table against each other when they walked onto the court for their quarter-final match.

However, the association said they both advanced to the semis after agreeing to field a unified team.

In a historic moment yesterday, it was announced by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) that Korea will thereon participate in the tournament as one team, combining players from Korea Republic and DPR Korea.

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Table tennis additionally comes with an background in diplomacy.

In Sweden, the Korean team will face the victor of a quarterfinal match between Ukraine and Japan.

"Table tennis has contributed greatly to worldwide peace, and it's important to aim to build peace in society through sports", he said. The united team is the latest sporting proof of the thaw in relations between the two rival Koreas that began at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February when they marched together at the opening ceremony and fielded a joint women's hockey team.

The Panmunjom Declaration signed during the inter-Korea summit meeting on April 27 stipulated that the two Koreas will compete jointly at the 18th Asian Games scheduled to be held in August in Indonesia, and in other global competitions.

South Korea's Suh Hyo-won (left) and North Korea's Kim Nam-hae play an exhibition game in Halmstad, Sweden on Thursday.

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