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Challenges ahead for unified Korean ice hockey team for Olympics

Challenges ahead for unified Korean ice hockey team for Olympics

Posted January. 19, 2018 08:53,   

Updated January. 19, 2018 09:25


South Korea announced the women’s ice hockey rosters on Thursday for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association announced 23 finalists to compete in the Winter Olympics including goalie Shin So-jung, forward Han Soo-jin and defencewoman Park Ye-eun. The roster also includes naturalized Koreans such as forwards Caroline Park, Randi Heesoo Griffin and Danelle Im. Marissa Brandt, who was born in Korea but adopted into an American family as an infant, will also play under her Korean name, Park Yoon-jung.

The Korean national team, with former Canadian star Sarah Murray at the helms, will enter the PyeongChang Olympic Village on February 4, a day after having a final eval‎uation match against Sweden in Incheon. Ranked No. 22 in the world, South Korea is slotted into Group B together with Switzerland (sixth), Sweden (fifth) and Japan (ninth).

After forming a unified team with North Korea, the biggest issue is to remove the barrier between athletes of the two Koreas. At the world championship last year, there were tight tensions between North and South Korean athletes. After South Korea beat the North 3-0, North Korean players did not say a single word to their South Korean counterparts during a photo session.

Another challenge facing the unified Korean team is how to use North Korean players. The South Korean government said that the team’s head coach has the full control over how to run it. However, it is difficult to put five to six North Korean players into every game.

In a media interview after returning from the team’s U.S. training camp, Murray said, “We could potentially add some players, but they wouldn’t be first- or second-line players for our team.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com