Unified Korean Women’s Doubles Team Cruises at Int’l Table Tennis Event

Nicholas Kim, July 18, 2018, 8:29 a.m.

A unified Korean women's doubles team cruised to victory at an international table tennis tournament here on Wednesday. The duo of Suh Hyo-won (South Korea) and Kim Song-i (North Korea) defeated Olga Kim and Regina Kim of Uzbekistan 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-2) to reach the round of 16 at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korea Open in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.

Suh is the top-ranked South Korean female player at No. 13, while Kim, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in singles, is tops among eight North Korean female players here at No. 55. They're one of four unified Korean teams at this tournament. In the men's doubles, Lee Sang-su (South) and Pak Sin-hyok (North) have teamed up. There are two joint pairs in the mixed doubles: Choe Il (North)-Yoo Eun-chong (South), and Jang Woo-jin (South)-Cha Hyo-sim (North).

Both mixed doubles teams qualified for the round of 16 with wins on Tuesday. The round of 16 matches are scheduled for Thursday, and the tournament wraps up on Sunday. Suh and Kim dominated their Uzbek opponents Wednesday, though they'd only trained together for a couple of days. Both are defenders but didn't shy away from getting in on the attack in this match.

This is their first partnership, but Suh and Kim are already familiar with one another. They were both members of the unified Korean women's team that won bronze at the world team championships in May in Sweden. They didn't play doubles two months ago -- the team match only featured singles -- but Suh said after Wednesday's victory that she and Kim had established good chemistry.

"I wanted to participate in the doubles, and it's a great honor to play with her because I learn a lot from her," Suh said of Kim. "I wanted to pass the qualifications, and now, we want to progress step by step."

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