Since dethroning China to conquer Asia in the 2001 AFC Women's Championship, Korea DPR have been a dominant force on the Asian scene. They went on to stamp their authority on the global stage in their third FIFA Women's World Cup in China 2007 when they stormed into last eight for the first time. The fact remains, however, Korea DPR have never represented Asia at a Women's Olympic Football Tournament. They failed to qualify for Sydney 2000 and four years later were denied a place at Athens 2004 after an unexpected 3-0 loss to Japan in the semi-final of Asian qualifying.
A competent force in Asia, the Koreans further showcased their significant progress when they surprised the watching world to win the title at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Russia in 2005. Several key players from that team, most notably Ri Un-Suk, graduated to the seniors to help form the backbone of coach Kim Kwang-Min's side. With young players complementing the reliable old heads, Kim has successfully formed the mixture into a competitive side that comfortably qualified for their first-ever Olympic Games with an unblemished record in all six qualifiers, including 2-0 wins over Australia in both legs.
Having proven themselves in the FIFA Women's World Cup, the team spearheaded by veteran captain Ri Kum-Suk will be aiming to underline their status as an emerging world power in their Olympic debut at Beijing 2008. Coach Kim Kwang-Min said, "Our goal is to break new ground at international level and I believe we have the class to do so."
Facts and figures
Beijing 2008 marks Korea DPR's Olympic debut.
Ri Un-Suk (midfielder), Ri Kum-Suk (striker), Myong-Hui (goalkeeper)
They won all six qualifiers, scoring 51 goals without conceding a single one.
The numbers game
8.5: the average number of goals scored per game by Korea DPR in their Olympic qualifying campaign.