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The Korean men’s and women’s national teams will be competing on home ice at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeonChang, following a decision by the IIHF Congress to grant the country automatic entry into the ice hockey events. 

“After careful deliberation and discussions with the IOC and the Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA), we have decided to grant an automatic qualification to the men’s and women’s national teams for PyeongChang 2018,” said IIHF President René Fasel.

The decision came following meetings held during the 2014 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress, where the KIHA presented a comprehensive four-year plan to intensify the development of the men’s and women’s teams. The plan has the backing of the IOC, the Korean government, and national sponsors, who together with the KIHA have pledged to invest over $20 million U.S. into the national team program in the leadup to the Games. 

In addition to the financial investment, the KIHA plans to organize annual exchange programs for their players with the world’s top hockey leagues and organizations. A major effort will be also made towards increasing the number of domestic and international games for the national team.

“Korean hockey has been working for a long time for this opportunity, and to have this presented to us today is overwhelming,” said Korean men’s national team head coach Jim Paek. “I don’t want to make any promises but as long as we focus on the process every day to get better I think we’ll be very competitive and hopefully we’ll represent the country well.”

On the women’s side, a slew of overseas training camps for the team are in the works, along with a National Team Development Program and a planned expansion of the domestic women’s league.  

“The IIHF is confident that, given the sizeable investment into the men’s and women’s programs, along with the changes in the KIHA’s structure and operations, Korea should have a chance to show the world it is capable of competing at the highest level of international hockey,” said Fasel. 

“This is a winning situation for Korean hockey,” said Paek. “I believe that when you have success people will gather to that and gain interest in the game, and to be a part of these Olympics is a big motivation for us.”

Now that they have a ticket to PyeongChang, the real work begins for Paek and the rest of the Korean national team. When asked about the next step, the former NHLer had one word:

“Prepare,” said Paek. “We’re behind the eight ball in a sense, because to build a national world competition team takes time and we only have a short period of time, so we need a strategy and a plan to maximize our potential.” 

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games take place from 9-25 February 2018. The playing format is still to be confirmed, but Korea will be the last seeded team.


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Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice. 
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