World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018: North and South Korea join hands to form Unified team for semifinal against Japan
What's the story?
The World Table Tennis Championship 2018 witnessed history after North and South Korea decided to use sports as a platform to promote peace. The two Koreas were to compete against each other earlier in a quarterfinal match, with Japan waiting in the semis. Taking the opportunity to promote peace between the two nations, they decided to form a unified team and take on Japan.
Before the quarterfinal clash, the two teams informed the umpires that they did not wish to compete against each other and preferred to make a united appearance. This took them directly to the semis.
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A similar step such as this dates back to 1991 when North and South Korea played as a united team in the World Table Tennis Championship. Hyun Jung-hwa of South Korea and Li Bun-hui of North teamed up to win against crowd favourites China.
The heart of the matter
History has repeated itself 27 years later with this inspiring gesture to promote peace. The two Korean teams also marched together at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang at the opening ceremony.
The decision to form the unified team was a tripartite one that took place between the leaders of South and North Korean Table Tennis teams and the ITTF.
Chairing the meeting of the ITTF Board of Directors was President Thomas Weikert. He was quoted in a press release stating, “When I informed the Board of Directors about this development, the unified team received a standing ovation from the delegates who showed their sign of support to this historic move.”
Just about a week ago, the leaders of South and North Korea made a pledge for peace in the peninsula which made this decision all the more praiseworthy. Using table tennis as a platform to promote this pledge was looked upon with great admiration worldwide.
JU Jong Choi, President of the Table Tennis Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also went on to say, “This is the result of the strong support provided by the ITTF and IOC. We will do our best to get more successful results internationally in a joint effort between North and South Korea.”
It will be interesting to see a unified Korea team take on neighbours Japan, in a high-intensity semifinal.
At a time when the two forces of Korea are trying hard to improve the state of affairs, using the medium of sports to promote peace is a step towards a better world.