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Joint Ping-Pong teams train today

July 16,2018
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North Korean table tennis players arrive at Incheon International Airport on Sunday to compete at the Seamaster 2018 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korean Open. [LIM HYUN-DONG]
The two Koreas are fielding joint teams at an international table tennis competition in Daejeon that kicks off Tuesday, and the players start practicing together today, the Korea Table Tennis Association said.

“The North Korean players and South Korean players will begin practicing together at Hanbat Gym in Daejeon from Monday,” an official of the Korea Table Tennis Association told reporters Sunday upon the arrival of 16 North Korean Ping-Pong players at Incheon International Airport.

The association announced Sunday the decision to field inter-Korean teams at the Seamaster 2018 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korea Open, which is slated to kick off Tuesday in Daejeon and run through July 22.

The two Koreas will field joint teams in men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

South Korea’s Lee Sang-su and North Korea’s Pak Sin-hyok will play as a joint men’s doubles team; the South’s Suh Hyo-won and the North’s Kim Song-i will play as a joint women’s doubles team; the South’s Jang Woo-jin and the North’s Cha Hyo-sim will play as a joint mixed doubles team; and the South’s Yoo Eun-chong and the North’s Choe Il will play as another joint mixed doubles team, according to the International Table Tennis Federation.

This is the third time the Koreas formed joint table tennis teams.

The first was in 1991 at the World Table Tennis Championship in Chiba, Japan. In May, inter-Korean women’s teams were fielded at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden.

Some of the players in the ITTF Korea Open are teaming up again after just two months apart.

“I want to ask Song-i how she has been in the past two months, and also want to congratulate her for winning the women’s singles in the ITTF Pyongyang Open last month,” Suh Hyo-won told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday. “She jokes a lot and we’ve talked a lot before. I’ve always thought her defense skills are great, and I want to learn from her in that area. I think there will be lots to learn from each other.”

Suh and Kim won bronze together in the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden in May.

Though North Korea sent its table tennis players to the South for the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, this is the first time the North is participating in the ITTF Korea Open.

The 25-person North Korean delegation - which includes eight male players and eight female players - is scheduled to return to the North on July 23.

BY PARK KWANG-SOO, KIM JI-HAN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]