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Pounding Pyongyang's Pavement for Peace
First-ever inter-Korean Marathon brings together 200 runners for a landmark 21-kilometer race
Kim Ji Soo (internews)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2005-11-25 11:56 (KST)   
Runners depart at 10 a.m. Thursday from Seosan Soccer Stadium in Pyongyang.
©2005 Lee J.H.
VODScenes from the Pyongyang Marathon / Kim Yun Sang
Thick fog and chilly weather could not dampen the spirits of some 200 runners taking part in the first-ever joint inter-Korean marathon beginning at Seosan Soccer Stadium in the North Korean capital Pyongyang to the port city of Nampo, Nov. 24.

A total of 144 South Koreans ran alongside some 50 North Koreans in the first Pyongyang Marathon, a 21.09-kilometer half-course hosted by OhmyNews, the "Campaign for the Two Koreas Living Together" and the North Korean government.

On the morning of the marathon, visibility was down to 10 meters, but the fog cleared as the day progressed.
©2005 Lee J.H.
Runners breeze past the 5-kilometer mark of the first Pyongyang Marathon, Nov. 24.
©2005 Lee J.H.
©2005 Nam S.Y.
Pyongyang citizens on their way to school and work gave a warm welcome to the runners, shouting words of encouragement such as "Keep at it!" and "Let our people unite!"

Some Pyongyang residents goaded the southern marathoners with a friendly "Is that the best you can do in those good sneakers?"

Given decades of acrimonious division on the Korean peninsula, the South Korean runners seemed more interested in engaging in small talk with Pyongang residents than crossing the finish line. One Pyongyang resident cycling to work joked with some stragglers, "Try to catch up with me if you can."

Lee Jong Eun, a 45-year-old South Korean, said, "I never dreamed that I would be running, sweating, through the streets of Pyongyang."

North Korea's Yoon Won Sung, center, came in first in the men's division at 1:09:56, followed by compatriot Sung Byeong Ho, left, and South Korea's Won Dong Cheol.
©2005 Lee J.H.
North Korean runners topped both the men's and the women's division. North Korea's Yoon Won Sung, came in first at 1:09:56, followed by compatriot Sung Byeong Ho, who came in at 1:10:09. South Korea's Won Dong Cheol, of Korea Electric Power Corp., came in third at 1:10:24.

"I think my daily morning workout paid off," said Yoon, the men's division winner. "I hope to get a chance to run in a unification marathon in Seoul."

North Korea's Chang Seon Ok, center, placed first with a record of 1:29:19. Compatriot Lim Myeong Ok, left, was second and the South's Yook Hae Sook came in third.
©2005 Lee J.H.
In the women's division, North Korea's Chang Seon Ok was first with a record of 1:29:19, followed by fellow North Korean Lim Myeong Ok, who finished in 1:29:37. South Korea's Yook Hae Sook came in third.

"I was so overwhelmed I cried as I ran," Yook said after the marathon. "I hope we reunify very soon so I can come back to Pyongyang to run with my kids."

Bae Hyung Jin, a 22-year-old South Korean runner with autism whose life story was made into the 2005 South Korean hit film "Marathon," was also among the participants in Pyongyang. He finished the course in 1:55:00.

Bae Hyung Jin, right, whose life story was made into the movie titled "Marathon," runs through the streets of the North Korean capital.
©2005 Nam S.Y.
Four buses were stationed throughout the course to help stragglers to the finish line, but everyone managed to complete the course on their own.

In the day's closing speech, OhmyNews CEO Oh Yeon Ho said, "As we the two Koreas ran together, I saw that we are one brethren -- one people -- who cannot live apart."

The South Korean participants are scheduled to visit major tourist sites in Pyongyang today and will return home on Saturday.
©2005 OhmyNews

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