They were supposed to battle each other in the quarterfinal stage of the 2018 ITTF World Team Championships holding in Halmstad, Sweden but North Korea and South Korea decided to replicate what is pervading the political scene in their countries as they have decided to form a united team for the semifinal match.
The two teams in what could be described as a landmark decision told the umpires that they would not compete on the table against each other as they walked into the court for their quarter-final match.
Instead, both teams requested that they want to form a unified Korean Team to compete together in the semi-final, which will be held on Friday May 4 against either Japan or Ukraine.
ITTF President Thomas WEIKERT who was chairing the ITTF Board of Directors meeting at the time stated: “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.”
The move follows the North and South Korean leaders’ pledge for “lasting peace” to the Korea peninsula just last week, which portrays that table tennis is perfect medium to be promoting peace through sport.
The last time that a unified Korea team played the World Table Tennis Championships was 1991 in Chiba, Japan where they shocked defending Champion China to be crowned World Champions.
It has been a big year for the two Korean countries joining forces, after they made history by marching together in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games earlier in Pyongchang, which was the most significant sign of unity in international sport since the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships. It is thanks to the IOC that North Korea is participating here in Halmstad, due to their Olympic Solidarity support.