South Korea is without a doubt one of the most successful national teams in the Olympic history of handball, and the most successful team from outside Europe in the whole handball history. Even though the Korean girls don’t always shine between the two Olympic Games, they always put up a dangerous team with an unusual playing style.
Since 1984, the South Korean girls won two medals at the world championships (gold in 1995 and bronze in 2003), while there were only two times when they didn’t win an Olympic medal (4th in 2000 and 2012), winning the gold twice: on home court in Seoul (1988) and four years later in Barcelona (1992). Last time they lost the bronze medal match against Spain in a nail-biting match with extra time. This time they also plan to surprise the world with a successful run, like so many times in the history of Olympic handball.
In 2015, they finished the world championship on the 14th position – however, it hardly means anything: South Korea and handball at the Olympic Games is a different story on its own. For example, in 1986, 1990 and 1993 – so before, between and after their two Olympic gold medals they finished on the 11th place. The Korean girls always prepare hidden from the curious eyes of the handball world there in South Korea. There was a period when the Korean key players like Oh Seong Ok or Kim Cha Youn moved to Europe (mostly to Hypo Niederösterreich), but now there are no Korean players in the top clubs of the world.
At the end of the European handball season, the South Korean girls were on a tour in the old continent, as a preparation they faced several national teams and clubs. They scored big victories against two Polish clubs, against the Ukrainian, the Slovenian and the Japanese national team. If their Olympic magic will work again, we will see soon.
The South Korean squad can be seen HERE.
Key players: Kim On A (playmaker), Ryu Eun Hee (right back), Mira Park (goalkeeper)
Chances: No matter how weak they perform in the period between the Olympic Games, they are always ready to surprise at the Olympics. In the group, they will have to face Russia, France, the Netherlands, Argentina and Sweden. They will need to beat one of the four Europeans to advance to the quarterfinals (of course if they win against Argentina), and it is not mission impossible for the Koreans, regarding the fact that they haven’t finished lower than fourth since 1984 – but it will be anything but easy for them… We never know what they can achieve with their unusual, very fast and uncomfortable playing style – there is a chance they can be the surprise team in Rio.