Overall, since Kim Taeksoo succeeded in 2001 on home soil in Seoul, players from the Korea Republic won 23 ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles.
Somewhat surprisingly it was the only time Kim Taeksoo, men’s singles bronze medallist at the 1991 World Championships and the same one year later at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, reserved the top step of the podium.
A total of 10 players share the titles. Way ahead of the field is Oh Sangeun, he won on eight occasions, next is Ryu Seungmin who succeeded three times, followed by Jang Woojin, Joo Saehyuk, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu who each prevailed twice. Like Kim Taeksoo, with one win each, Cho Eonrae, Kim Donghyun and Lee Jung Woo complete the list.
However, since Jang Woojin won in Belarus in 2016 on Sunday 11th September, the reading has not been that positive for the east Asian country.
In fact, Jang Woojin is the exception to the rule. In 2018, on Sunday 22nd July in Daejeon, he became the first player at an ITTF World Tour tournament to complete the full house. After partnering DPR Korea’s Cha Hyo Sim to mixed doubles gold, he secured the men’s doubles top prize in harness with Lim Jonghoon, concluding matters by defeating China’s Liang Jinkun to emerge the men’s singles champion.
Now who can be the player to stop the current drought? Who can be the next player from the Korea Republic to win a men’s singles title at an open international tournament?
The recent 2021 World Table Tennis Middle East Hub tournaments, staged in Doha from Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 13th March, suggest that the name to note in Cho Daeseong.
Required to qualify in both the Contender and Star Contender events, the 18 year old won nine of his 11 matches; more significantly he dispatched some most worthy names.
Men’s Singles – WTT Contender, Doha
Men’s Singles – WTT Star Contender, Doha
Most definitely reminders to the selectors and there is another. He is left handed. In Doha at the WTT Contender tournament, he proved the ideal foil for Lee Sangsu; the top seeds, they won the men’s doubles title.
Men’s Doubles – WTT Contender, Doha
Most impressive performances in Doha and there is one further aspect which strengthens his case when national team selection is considered, he’s no mean mixed doubles partner!
Turn the clock back to Saturday 29th August, the ITTF World Tour 2019 Czech Open in Olomouc; he partnered Shin Yubin to gold. In the final they beat Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito (6-11, 15-13, 12-10, 16-18, 12-10).
It was early days in the Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito as a partnership; nevertheless, they are touted strongly as medallists at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Cho Daeseong, the evidence is growing in his favour not only for a major men’s singles title, also for national team selection at the world’s major events.
Editor: Ian Marshall