— Published 3 October 2023

Both Koreas go for gold

On Monday 2 October, sport and politics crossed paths at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. As is often the case, the scene took place during the table tennis tournament. The final of the women’s doubles, a non-Olympic discipline, pitted two Korean pairs against each other, but in different colours. South Korea’s Jeon Ji Hee and Shin Yu Bin beat their North Korean opponents, Cha Su Yong and Pak Su Gyong, four sets to one. Earlier in the day, the two North Korean table tennis players evaded questions from the media after their semi-final victory, explaining that they would speak after the final. But once the decisive match was over, they did not take part in the press conference and did not appear in the mixed zone. North Korea sent a delegation of 190 athletes to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, in its first participation in an international multi-sport event since the last edition of the continental event, held in Indonesia in 2018. As of the evening of Monday 2 October, North Korea was ranked 8th in the world standings, with 22 medals, seven of which were gold.