— Published 29 September 2023

North Korea opens its counter

It’s a done deal. On Thursday 28 September, North Korea won its first gold medals at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. On the sixth day of the continental event, the Pyongyang delegation climbed to the top of the podium three times in the space of a few hours, in gymnastics and shooting. Gymnast An Chang Ok won two titles, on vault and uneven bars. Earlier in the day, the women’s shooting team won the 10m air rifle event. Its three athletes, Paek Ok Sim, Pang Myong Hyang and Ri Ji Ye, celebrated their victory on the podium with a military salute, before refusing to answer questions from the South Korean agency Yonhap. North Korea is taking part in its first international multi-sport competition in Hangzhou since the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. It did not take part in the Tokyo 2020 Games for health reasons, and was excluded by the IOC from the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. On Thursday 28 September, its delegation was ranked 10th in the medals table, with 12 places on the podium, a long way behind China and its 167 medals, 90 of which were gold.