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North and South Korea to field unified women's basketball team at Asian Games 2018
PYONGYANG (Asian Games 2018) - In an exciting and welcome development announced last month, the National Olympic Committees of North and South Korea and the organizers of the Asian Games 2018 have declared that the two Koreas will field joint teams in women's basketball, canoeing and rowing (the latter two in both men and women).
Subsequent to this announcement, a 50-member contingent from South Korea arrived in Pyongyong on July 3.
Thereafter two friendlies, featuring mixed teams, were played on July 4 in the North Korean capital's Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Gymnasium. In the first women's game, "Team Prosperity" edged out "Team Peace", 103-102, while the men's mixed game ended in a 102-102 tie. The following day, competitive men's and women's games were played between North and South Korean teams.
The exhibition games reflected the "revered determination of the leaders of the North and South to bring forward the future of a self-reliant unification," said North Korea's sports minister Kim Il Guk.
"We look alike. We speak the same language. We will have good outcomes (at the Asian Games) if we join efforts," Lee Moon-Kyu, a South Korean coach, who will be in charge of the combined women's team at next month's Asian Games, was quoted as saying.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is known to be a big basketball fan. The decision to field joint teams in select events at the Asian Games 2018 comes on the back of sustained efforts at reconciliation over the last few months. The two nations had also marched together at the Winter Olympics earlier this February.
The Koreas will also be marching together at the Asian Games, taking place in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2.