(from a report filed by YANG YANG BADMINTON SHUTTLES)

January 26, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Ha Tae Kwon and Kang Kyung Jin today managed to win one championship for Korea at the six-star US$250,000 Korean Open badminton tournament in Seoul and helped the host country, one of the powerhouses in the sport and winners of four crowns last year, to avoid being shut out of the titles in their own homegrounds. Ha and Kang, seeded 3-4, beat the top-seeds from Malaysia, Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock, in today's men's doubles title match.

The match did not start out well for the Korean pair. Cheah and Yap were overwhelming in their smash attacks in the first game, while the Ha-Kang defenses were porous. Cheah and Yap ran away with the first game 15-4.

In the second game, the Malaysians came out coasting and playing defensively, perhaps tired from their first set efforts and perhaps a bit overconfident. The Korean game caught fire and they started to unload successive smash attacks that scored repeatedly on Cheah and Yap. The Malaysians never got their game going and the Ha-Kang duo took the second stanza in a breeze 15-3.

In the deciding third game, the Korean smash attack was still effective while Cheah and Yap's smashes and drives did not have the sting and power to get to the floor past the Korean defenses. In fact, Ha and Kang were able to turn back the Malaysian attempts at offense with faster drives and drive blocks of their own. The Koreans won the third easily 15-5.

In the women's doubles finals, an all-China affair, it was world champion Ye Zhoying, seeded second here, who prevailed over top-seeded teammate Gong Zhichao.

The first game of this final looked like a practice session between the two Chinese players, with Ye being the less-interested and more-erratic of the two combatants. Gong took the first 11-6.

In the second set, Gong continued to play well while Ye was still unfocused and erratic in the early going. In mid-game, however, Ye began to exert herself. She caught up to Gong and beat her in a tie-breaker 12-10.

In the third, Ye had the proverbial momentum on her side. With her reverse slice drop shots and tight net shots working, she captured the decider and the championship 11-4.

In the mixed doubles final, Liu Yong and Ge Fei defeated Jens Eriksen and Marlene Thomsen of Denmark and claimed the third title for China at this edition of the Korean Open.

The two mixed doubles pairs, playing against each other in a major badminton championship match for the second week in a row, battled it out in a close first game with Liu and Ge finally prevailing 15-13.

In the second game, the Danes never got into the thick of the fight. Liu and Ge were in control through most of the set and won 15-3.

Liu and Ge had also won last week's Japan Open mixed doubles finals over Eriksen and Thomsen.

In championship matches held yesterday, Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen had made it four elite international men's singles titles in a row for Denmark when he beat Park Sung Woo of Korea 15-12 and 15-10, while Olympic women's doubles gold medalists Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China had defeated teammates Qin Yiyuan and Tang Yongshu 15-10 and 15-10 to take the first of China's three championships at this tournament.