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Basketball exchange to be seen between the two Koreas

Posted May. 02, 2018 08:08,   

Updated May. 02, 2018 08:08


Coach Hur Jae would have drinks with the 235cm tall North Korean player

Korean National Basketball Male Team coach Hur Jae, who is widely known as “basketball president” during his career, has a lot of memories with the 235-centimeter tall Ri Myung-hun (age 29), who is a famous North Korean basketball player for being the tallest player in the world at the time.

Accordingly, coach Hur was delighted to see Ri Myung Hun, whose name was thought to be forgotten, frequently reappear in the media recently. It was mentioned at the inter-Korean summit on April 27 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told President Moon Jae-in that “North Korea’s team was strong when we had Ri but the team became weak ever since he retired.” Also, as Kim , a basketball fanatic, mentioned about basketball exchanges between the two Korea, people became interested in whether such exchange would actually become a reality.

The last time coach Hur met Ri was when he played at the South Korea and North Korea’s Unification Basketball Games that was held in Pyongyang in 2003. A picture, where coach Hur receives a drink from Ri Myung-hu, who is pouring a drink in a polite manner, at a get-together, drew attention. Before this incident, coach Hur visited a basketball court to see Ri Myung-hun, who played as North Korean representative at the Busan Asian Games in 2002, and gave the North Korean player a lucky charm, electric watch and basketball shoes that was 375-milimeter big. Mr. Hur also prepared a bracelet for Ri Myung-hun’s wife. Before meeting coach Hur, Ri would ask South Korean basketball officials about coach Hur’s recent conditions and whether he will be participating the Asian Games.

“I don’t know if I can say this as I am leading the National Team,” recollected coach Hur. “I would call Myung-hun to have drinks together whenever I participated in international contests and talked about a lot of things.”

With the young North Korean leader emphasizing basketball exchanges between the two Koreas, the Korea Basketball Association is also seeking various means with chairman Bang Yeol at the center.

An official from the Basketball Association described that North Korea’s female basketball team is more likely to form a unified team with South Korea at the Asian Games compared to the male team as they participated in international contests recently including the Asia Cup last year and has tall players who have scoring abilities within the team.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com