The South Korean handball players arrive home at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday. © YonhapSports News
Date : 22 Jan 2019
Incheon, Korea, January 22, 2019: The South Korea men's handball squad returned home Tuesday after competing at the world championships on a historic unified team alongside North Korean athletes, reports Yonhap News.
There were 16 South Koreans and four North Koreans at the International Handball Federation (IHF) World Men's Handball Championship, co-hosted by Germany and Denmark. Coached by South Korean Cho Young-shin, the joint Korean team finished 22nd among 24 participants.
This was the first international appearance by a unified Korean handball team, men's or women's, and follows on from the North-South joint cooperation at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and 18th Asian Games in 2018.
Korea lost all five group matches and was relegated to the ranking round. In the 21st-24th place semifinals Saturday, Korea defeated Japan 27-25 for its first victory. Korea fell to Saudi Arabia 27-26 in the 21st place contest in Copenhagen on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters at Incheon International Airport, coach Cho said he felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders now that the competition was over.
"From the start of our training camp I told the players they should never give up," Cho said. "And they did exactly that at the tournament. I am thankful for that."
Cho said he was forced to play some North Korean players out of their natural positions because there wasn't enough time to get them acclimated to the existing South Korean system.
Cho's players began their joint training in Berlin on December 22, less than 20 days before their first match.
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