South, North Korea form joint table tennis team

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South, North Korea form joint table tennis team

South and North Korea have formed a joint team at the ongoing table tennis world championships, the sport’s Seoul officials said Thursday.

The Korea Table Tennis Association (KTTA) said the two Koreas agreed to join forces during the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad, Sweden. They were supposed to face each other in the quarterfinals later on Thursday but have instead advanced to the semifinals without playing.

This is the first joint Korean table tennis team since the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan, when the unified women’s team, led by South Korean Olympic champion Hyun Jung-hwa and the North’s Li Bun-hui, won the gold medal.

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

The KTTA said International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) President Thomas Weikert proposed the joint team at the worlds. The KTTA has also proposed a unified Korean team at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, pending the ITTF’s approval.

On Wednesday in Halmstad, female players from the two Koreas played an exhibition doubles match during the launching ceremony of the ITTF Foundation. Suh Hyo-won of South Korea and Kim Nam-hae of North Korea teamed up against Yang Ha-eun of South Korea and Choe Hyon-hwa of North Korea.

During the event, Ju Jong-chol, secretary general of the North Korean Table Tennis Association, said that while his organization is positive about a joint Korean team, no official decision has been made by the relevant authorities.

Talks for joint Korean teams at the Asian Games gained traction last week following the inter-Korean summit. A joint declaration stated that the two sides “agreed to demonstrate their collective wisdom, talents and solidarity by jointly participating in international sports events, such as the 2018 Asian Games.”

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