A combined Koreas crew earned a historic bronze medal at the Asian Games on Saturday by finishing third in the women’s 200-meter dragon boat final behind China and games host Indonesia.
It was the first time a combined team from North Korea and South Korea has won a medal at a major multi-sport international event.
And it was awarded to Korea — the name given to the combined teams the war-divided countries entered in rowing, canoeing and women’s basketball.
“In the first place, we weren’t sure if this unified team would be formed, but I’m so happy that we won the bronze medal in the end,” the crew’s captain, South Korean Kim Hyeon-hee, was quoted as saying by Yonhap.
“I did get emotional. I tried not to cry but in my heart, I think there’s something about being a Korean.”
The Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, have fielded 60 athletes in combined teams in the three sports along with larger contingents for their respective national squads.
A group of athletes from North Korea and South Korea paraded into the opening ceremony last weekend behind the “unification” flag which features the outline of the peninsula in blue on a white background.
It took another seven days for any of the combined teams to get on the medals podium.
The joint crew featured seven South Koreans and five North Koreans and finished in 56.851 seconds at the Jakabaring Rowing and Canoeing Regatta Course in Palembang.