JAKARTA -- Members of the unified Korean women's basketball team went their separate ways on Monday after combining for silver at the Asian Games in a farewell that mixed laughter and tears.
The three North Korean players on the team, Ro Suk-yong, Jang Mi-gyong and Kim Hye-yon, bid adieu to their nine South Korean teammates at the athletes' village in Jakarta, one of the co-host cities of the Asian Games that concluded on Sunday.
The joint Korean team won silver medal, following a 71-65 loss in the gold medal game against China on Saturday. Though the team only began training together about two weeks before the start of the Asian Games, the Korean players gelled quickly and made a strong run to the final.
Korea hung tough against China and gave the heavily favored team all it could handle. But Ro, Korea's leading scorer with 15.1 points per game, fouled out in the third quarter as the team's rally fell short.
These players first met in friendly games in Pyongyang during the first week of July. They will be reunited in Seoul in October, when North Korean players will pay a reciprocal visit to the South Korean capital for further friendly contests.
South Korean assistant coach Ha Sook-rye and North Korean assistant Jong Song-sim walked hand in hand, and head coach Lee Moon-kyu, from the South, spoke with Kim Hye-yon at length.
As the bus carrying the North Korean members left for the airport, Lee and his players waved goodbye until the vehicle was out of sight.
Lee then shed a few tears over parting ways with the players he'd worked with for a little over a month.
"They were all great people and got along with (South Korean) players really well. I am thankful for that," Lee said. "I think I've had a chance to coach really good players. I hope they'll continue to train and play in a good environment." (Yonhap)