North Korea’s women’s table tennis team defeated ‘powerhouse’ Chinese Taipei in their return to international competition after a three-year absence.
The North Korean women’s table tennis team defeated Chinese Taipei 3-2 in a full-match thriller at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Archer Canal Sports Park Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, on Wednesday.
It was the first match for North Korea’s table tennis team, which hasn’t competed in an international event since the World Team Qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Portugal in January 2020.
The DPRK women’s team, which has undergone a generational change and has a number of unfamiliar players in its lineup, sent out Kim Geum-young, Pon Song-kyong, and Cha Sooyoung against Taiwan.
None of the North Korean players are ranked by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in singles.
Kim Hyok-bong, who emerged as a “table tennis hero” for North Korea at the 2013 World Championships in Paris when he and Kim won the mixed doubles gold medal with South Korea’s Lee Sang-soo and Park Young-sook in the final, was on the bench as head coach.
Chinese Taipei fielded “ace” Chung Yi-jing (ranked 14th) at second singles and Chun Zhih-you (ranked 48th) and Lee Yeou-jun (ranked 57th) at first and third singles, respectively.
All of the North Korean players on the day utilized the forward fastball, a style that North Korean women’s table tennis has traditionally been strong in.
Chinese Taipei found the match difficult as two of their players, except for Chung Yi-Jing, were unable to cope with the North Korean attack.
When North Korea ran away, Taiwan gave chase.
In the first singles, Kim Geum-young defeated Jeon Zhiyou 3-2 (11-8 5-11 11-9 7-11 11-6) and in the third singles, Cha Sooyoung defeated Lee Yeo-jun 3-0 (11-3 11-8 11-8).
Zheng Yijing defeated Byun Song Kyung 3-1 (9-11 11-9 11-4 11-4) at second singles and Kim Geum Young 3-0 (11-7 11-2 11-3) at fourth singles to push the match to the fifth singles.
In the final match, Paik Song-kyong defeated Jeon Je-zoo 3-1 (11-8 9-11 11-8 11-4) to give North Korea the victory.
North Korea will play their final group match against the Maldives at 11 a.m. KST on Nov. 23.
With the Maldives being the underdogs, it’s very possible that North Korea will finish first in Group C and advance to the quarterfinals.
In that case, North Korea and South Korea, who finished first in Group D, will have to survive to the final to set up a “North-South” showdown.
In the men’s team event, North Korea’s team of Kim Yong-sung, Ri Jong-sik, and Ahn Ji-sung lost 0-3 to Japan.
North Korea’s men’s team will play Nepal at 1 p.m. KST on Nov. 23 to finish second in their group and advance to the round of 16. 안전놀이터