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The two Koreas are fielding a joint women’s ice hockey team in the Olympics, an they had their first and only practice match on Sunday against Sweden.
It was a loss for the Koreas, but not a bad result for a squad that only had a few days to train together before playing a team that’s one of the world’s best.
Lee Ji-won has more.
The joint Korean women’s ice hockey team took to the rink together on Sunday for their first game, with the Winter Olympics only a matter of days away.
The Unification flag was raised instead of South Korea’s national flag, the Taegeukgi,… and the Korean folk song Arirang filled the rink in place of a national anthem.
Playing against fifth-ranked Sweden,… Team Korea lost the friendly three-one.
Though the head coach was only required to include three North Korean players in the 22-woman roster,… four of the twelve North Koreans who joined the squad were fielded in the game: three forwards and one in defense.
One of Pyongyang’s best players, Jong Su-hyon , even made it to the second line.
And at a press conference right after the game, Team Korea’s head coach said that there would be more chances like this, if the North Korean players continue to train hard.
“After watching the players practice, Su-hyon actually made it to the second line. She sees the game well, she plays tough, she’s fast. If they continue to work hard, continue to learn our systems, I can see them staying in the second line.”
While North Korea’s head coach Park Cheol-ho and forward Jong Su-hyon were also at the press conference, they only mentioned their determination for the upcoming games,… and left the table without answering any questions.
“If the South and North Koreans come together in every game and work harder and harder, I am sure that there will be a good result. Also, I hope the Games will be an opportunity for Korea to show its power to the world.”
With North Korean players showing their determination to learn the systems, the South Korean players and the head coach rated North Korean players’ performances on Sunday highly.
But there are still struggles ahead.
“Like our coach said, the language is still the major issue. During our games or our training, we say something but the North Korean players don’t understand,… and it’s the same for us. But it’s something that’ll get better with more training together.”
After the game, the ice-hockey team left for the Gangneung Olympic Village where they will live and train for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Korea’s joint ice-hockey team have their first game at the Winter Olympics on February 10th,… against Switzerland.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
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