Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
On 19 December (Wednesday) DPRK state media reported that an amateur table tennis tournament for senior and mid-level managers of the Korean Workers’ Party, the DPRK Government and other state and economic institutions began at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium. General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea department director Hong Song Hyon told state media that the opening day of the tournament had 500 participants. Tournament participants are drawn from the State Planning Commission, the Education Commission, the Ministry of Coal Industry, the Ministry of Metal Industry, the Ministry of Mining Industry, the Taeso’ng Guidance Bureau and the U’nha Guidance Bureau, among others. The participants engaged in single and team competition. KCNA reported that in “the team events, leading party and administrative officials will participate in singles, vice chiefs in doubles and department directors and office heads in singles” and that in “individual events, singles of leading officials and doubles of vice chiefs will be held.” The table tennis will run continue through January with semi-final and and final rounds.
One of the most notable participants in the table tennis tournament was Ri Kwang Gun (Ri Kwang-ku’n), Chairman of the DPRK Joint Venture and Investment Commission (Commission for Joint Venture and Investment). According to KCNA Ri said of the tournament, “I am pleasant to have won the first match with my rival from the Ministry of Commerce. Most of those present at the tournament are good in playing table-tennis. The tournament is arousing the officials’ sports enthusiasm as it takes place amid the growing public concern for sports. True to the policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK; Korean Workers’ Party) on popularizing physical culture and sports, I will intensify sports activities.”