North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

DPRK Announces Top Ten Athletes and Coaches in 2012

2012 Top DPRK Athlete DPRK boxer Pak Kyong Ok (C, red) fights the US' Mikaela Mayer in the light welterweight semi-finals of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, PRC, on 18 May 2013 (Photos: AIBA screengrabs)

2012 Top DPRK Athlete DPRK boxer Pak Kyong Ok (C, red) fights the US’ Mikaela Mayer in the light welterweight semi-finals of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, PRC, on 18 May 2013 (Photos: AIBA screengrabs)

DPRK state media reported on 17 January (Thursday) that it selected the county’s top athletes and coaches for the year 2012.  Although the country has previously issued lists of top athletes and coaches, this announcement was part of the country’s increasing promotion of sports and physical culture domestically, and its athletes’ participation in international competitions.  It is the product of the recently created State Physical Culture and Sports Commission, established at a Korean Workers’ Party Political Bureau meeting on 4 November 2012 “to put the DPRK on the level of a sports power is an important work to boost the national capabilities in every way, demonstrate the indomitable spirit and dignity of military-first (so’ngun)Korea to the whole world.”  The State Physical Culture and Sports Commission is chaired by the DPRK’s de facto #2 leading official Jang Song Taek (Chang So’ng-‘taek; Jang Song Thaek), Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and Director of the KWP Administration Department.  The establishment of the sports commission in November 2012 represented a significant organizational change because it migrated administration and management from the exclusive control of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] to the DPRK Government.

Woman boxer Pak Kyong Ok, who won the light welterweight division at the Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur [AIBA; International Boxing Association] Women’s World Boxing Championships held in the PRC in May 2012, was named a top athlete; as of January 2013 Ms. Pak is also ranked #3 in the world in her weigh class by AIBA and is one of the DPRK’s best boxers and elite athletes.  Also selected were Ri Kwang Il and Kim Won Chol, who placed in their respective model plane categories at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale [FAI; International Air Sports Federation] Asian Championships in Ulan Bator in July 2012.  Male gymnast Ri Se Gwang, who has participated and received medals at regional and international competitions was also selected.

An Kum Ae (L) and Rim Jong Sim (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

An Kum Ae (L) and Rim Jong Sim (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Ri Se Gwang (L) and Yang Kyong Il (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Ri Se Gwang (L) and Yang Kyong Il (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Om Yun Chol (L) and Kim Un Guk (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Om Yun Chol (L) and Kim Un Guk (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Some of the athletes selected participated in the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  They were: woman judoka An Kum Ae (25 April Sports Team) who earned a gold medal in the 52 kg judo competition at the London 2012 Summer Olympics;  male weightlifter Kim Un Guk (25 April Sports Teams) who earned a gold medal in the 62 kg lifting competition at the 2012 Olympics; male weightlifter Om Yun Chol (Amnokgang Sports Team) who received a gold medal and equaled the world record in the 56 kg event in the 2012 Olympics; woman weightlifter Rim Jong Sim (Kigwancha Sports Team) who eared a gold medal in the 69 kg lifting event at the 2012 Summer Olympics; woman weightlifter Ryang Chun Hwa (25 April Sports Team) who received the bronze medal in the 48 kg lifting event; male freestyle wrestler Yang Kyong Il (Ryo’ngnamsan Sports Team) who participated in the 55 kg competition.

Coaches Pak Ki Song (L) And Ri Chun Gyong (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

Coaches Pak Ki Song (L) And Ri Chun Gyong (R) (Photos: KCNA/Korea Sports Fund)

The top coaches selected were at the London 2012 Summer Olympics and were: judo coach Ryu Ju Song of the 25 April Sports Team, weightlifting coach Pak Ki Song of the 25 April Sports Team, weightlifting coach Ri Chun Gyong of the Amnokgang Sports Team and Kim Chun Hui of the Rimyongsu Sports Team.

Special thanks to AIBA

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