Korea Republic, Jeon Jihee leads bid to first medal
Gold at the Olympic Games, titles at the World Championships but never has the Republic of Korea secured a medal of any colour at the Women’s World Cup.
Commencing on Sunday 8th November in the Chinese city of Weihai, at the three day Dishang Group 2020 Women’s World Cup, they try again; Jeon Jihee, listed at no.16 in the global order, heads the challenge.
In fact on only one occasion has a player from the Republic of Korea reached the semi-final and then it was almost a first stage exit.
At the third edition of the tournament staged in 1998 in Taipei City, in the group stage of proceedings, an era when the initial phase was best of three games, each games to 21 points, Ryu Jihae secured second position by the skin of teeth.
She beat China’s Yang Ying in three games, by the same margin she lost to Hungary’s Csilla Batorfi. Significantly, Yang Ying accounted for Csilla Batorfi in straight games. All three beat Chinese Taipei’s Xu Jing, thus in the battle for a top two finish the order read Yang Ying (3:2), followed Ryu Jihae (3:3) and Csilla Batorfi (2:3).
A quarter-final place reserved, Ryu Jihae overcame Luxembourg’s Ni Xialian, prior to suffering at the hands of China’s Li Ju. In the third place contest, she was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Tong Feiming; fourth place was the lot for Ryu Jihae, the nearest Korea Republic has ever come to a Women’s World Cup medal!
Notably, it was the second appearance for Ryu Jihae in a Women’s World Cup tournament; the previous year she had played in Shanghai finishing in third place in her group. Ironically the only player she beat was Tong Feiming!
In Weihai, it is the second appearance for Jeon Jihee and arguably she can enter the fray in a rather more comfortable frame of mind than her illustrious predecessor 22 years ago.
Accepted that nowadays the top eight names do not compete in the group stage and gain a direct main draw entry; last year on debut in Chengdu, Jeon Jihee finished unbeaten in first place in her group ahead of Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Poland’s Natalia Partyka. She experienced defeat in round one, losing to Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching.
Arguably that is one step higher than Ryu Jihae on debut; if we consider status, in 1997, Ryu Jihae finished in an effective 9th to 12th position, in 2019 Jeon Jihee concluded matters in 5th to 8th position.
One step higher than Ryu Jihae on debut, can Jeon Jihee who will celebrate her 28th birthday on Wednesday 28th October, repeat the feat on the second appearance? A first medal for Korea Republic?
Editor: Ian Marshall