20 Best Judo Players in South Korea : a Historical Perspective


South Korea is home to some of the best judo players in the world. Over the years, South Korea has produced a number of elite judo athletes who have achieved success on the international stage.

These judo players have won medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships, and they have set numerous national and international records. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best judo players in South Korea and their achievements.

1. Lee Won-hee

Lee Won-hee is a highly accomplished judoka, with a formidable list of accolades to his name. He is a quadruple judo champion, having won the gold medal in the men’s lightweight division at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

This was a remarkable feat, as it was not only his first Olympic gold medal but also his first major international victory. In addition to his Olympic gold, Lee also won the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games and the 2003 Asian Judo Championships.

His victory at the 2003 Asian Judo Championships marked his first world championship title.

His subsequent success at the 2006 Asian Games further cemented his status as a premier judoka and one of South Korea’s most successful athletes. Lee Won-hee has been an inspiration to judokas around the world.

He is a prime example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. His achievements have earned him a place in the hearts of judo fans and admirers of his sport.

2. Kyu Ha Kim

Kyu Ha Kim was a talented and dedicated South Korean judoka. In a remarkable feat, he became the youngest judoka to ever reach the kudan rank, the 9th-degree black belt. After his death, he was posthumously promoted to the highest rank in judo, jūdan, the 10th degree black belt.

In addition to his expertise in judo, Kim also practiced in the Korean martial arts, Taekwondo, and reached the rank of 9th degree black belt. His martial arts prowess was widely respected and admired, and throughout his life he taught martial arts for more than sixty years.

Kim was a true master of martial arts, and his legacy will be remembered for years to come.

3. Kim Jae-bum

Kim Jae-bum is a retired South Korean judoka who is well-known for his success at the half-middleweight category. Despite facing numerous injuries throughout his career, Kim was able to rise to the top and make a name for himself in the judo world.

His career highlights include his Olympic debut in 2008, as well as his 2012 Olympic finals rematch against Ole Bischof.

Kim’s success in the competition speaks for itself, as he managed to overcome the staggering odds against him and come out on top. Kim’s determination and hard work enabled him to make a career out of judo.

Even with the physical obstacles he faced, he was still able to stay competitive and successful in the sport. His Olympic success showcased his impressive level of skill and tenacity, making him an admirable figure in the judo community.

Kim’s success is an example of the power of resilience and hard work, as despite his injuries, he was still able to rise to the top and become a world-renowned judoka.

4. An Changrim

An Chang-rim is a South Korean judoka who has recently retired from the sport. He is currently recognized as the world champion in the lightweight division, a title he achieved through his impressive performances over the years.

An began his rise to the top of the judo world as a junior World Champion and was able to maintain his spot at the top with a two-year podium streak. During this streak, he achieved several major wins at the Grand Slam Abu Dhabi and Tokyo.

An is an example of a dedicated and talented judoka who has been able to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

5. Gwak Dong-han

Gwak Dong-han is a South Korean judoka who achieved great success at the 2015 World Judo Championships, winning the gold medal in the 90kg event and earning the rank of No. 1 in the world.

His success is due in part to his training partner, Song Dae-nam, who was his coach at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Song Dae-nam has guided Gwak Dong-han’s career, helping him to hone his skills and become one of the best judo competitors in the world.

Through their partnership, Gwak Dong-Han has been able to compete on the international stage and experience success at the highest levels of competition.

This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of both coach and athlete and stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through a strong partnership.

6. An Ba-ul

An Ba-ul is a South Korean judoka who has achieved great success in the sport. He is the 2015 World Champion in the half-lightweight division, making him the first South Korean to become a champion in this division in over a decade.

An is also a noted junior judoka, having been crowned Junior World Champion in his younger years. An’s success as a judoka has been remarkable. He has quickly risen to prominence in the sport on the back of his accomplishments.

He has shown that South Korea can produce world-class judokas and that he is one of them. His achievement of becoming a world champion in the half-lightweight division is a testament to his skill and dedication.A has been praised for his hard work and dedication to the sport.

He has trained hard and dedicated himself to become the best judoka possible.

His accomplishments at the junior level are evidence of his natural talent, and his rise to the top of the half-lightweight division is a story of grit and determination.A Ba-ul is a true champion and an inspiration to all judokas in South Korea and around the world.

His commitment to the sport has helped to raise its profile in his home country, and he is a role model for those wishing to follow in his footsteps. An Ba-ul is an exemplary judoka and a deserving world champion.

7. Cho Gu-ham

Cho Gu-ham is a retired South Korean judoka who competed in the men’s 100 kg event at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He was a highly successful judoka, having won numerous medals throughout his career on the international stage.

Unfortunately, he was unable to progress past the third round at the Olympics, as he was eliminated by Artem Bloshenko of Ukraine. This was a major setback for Cho Gu-ham, as he had been hoping to make a deep run at the Games and possibly become an Olympic medalist.

Nonetheless, he still holds the distinction of being one of the few South Korean judokas to have competed at the Olympics.

8. Choi Min-ho

Choi Min-ho is a South Korean judoka, a martial artist who specializes in the sport of judo. He was born on August 18, 1980, in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea.

He began his judo career early on, training with the Korean Judo Association and soon becoming one of the most successful judokas in South Korea.

He has won numerous national and international competitions, including the gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games and the bronze medal at the 2002 World Championships.

He also competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where he placed 5th in the men’s half-middleweight category. In addition, he has served as a coach for the Korean national judo team and is currently the president of the Korean Judo Association.

Choi Min-ho is a respected figure in the judo world and is an inspiration to aspiring judokas around the world.

9. Kim Lim-hwan

Kim Lim-hwan is a South Korean judoka who has achieved notable success in his sport. In 2019, he won a medal at the World Judo Championships, a prestigious international event.

This victory was followed by even greater success in 2021, when he won one of the bronze medals in his event at the 2021 Asian-Pacific Judo Championships, held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

This accomplishment is a testament to Kim Lim-hwan’s dedication to his sport and his commitment to excellence. He is a true champion and an inspiration to all judokas around the world.

10. Cho Min-sun

Cho Min-sun is an accomplished judoka from South Korea. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, having won gold in the middleweight division at the 1996 Summer Olympics and bronze in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Additionally, she has won two gold medals at the World Championships, in 1993 and 1995. Cho’s accomplishments are especially impressive considering she is a South Korean judoka, a sport that is not particularly popular or widely practiced in the country.

She was able to reach the highest levels of the sport, competing at the Olympics and winning medals, which is an amazing feat. She has inspired many other judokas in South Korea and around the world, showing that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

11. Bang Gui-man

Bang Gui-man is an accomplished South Korean judoka, who has achieved a great deal of success in his sport. He has represented his nation South Korea at the 2004 Summer Olympics and earned four medals in the 66 and 73-kg divisions at the Asian Judo Championships.

Furthermore, he recently earned a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. This success illustrates the dedication and hard work that Bang Gui-man has dedicated to his sport, as well as the talent he has for judo.

He is an inspiration to aspiring judokas, showing them that with dedication and hard work, they too can achieve great success.

12. Jung Sung-sook

Jung Sung-Sook is an accomplished South Korean judoka. She has achieved great success on the international stage in her career and has been a major force in the sport. Jung has won two Olympic bronze medals in the half-middleweight division in 1996 and 2000.

Her biggest triumph came in 1995 when she won the gold medal at the World Championships in Chiba, Japan. Jung’s dominance in the sport is also evident in her five-time championship record in the half-middleweight division at the Asian Championships.

This impressive record is a testament to her hard work and dedication in the sport. Jung is an exemplary example of what is possible when someone puts their mind to it and works hard.

13. Kim Won Jin

Kim Won-Jin is a highly accomplished South Korean judoka, having achieved success both nationally and internationally. He has won two bronze medals at the World Championships, the most prestigious judo event, and was also the gold medalist at the 2015 Asian Judo Championships.

His success in the sport has made him a household name in South Korea and has earned him the respect of the global judo community. In addition to his success in the sport, Won-Jin is also a prominent figure in South Korean society.

He has become a popular public figure due to his success in the sport and has also been involved in various charitable activities. His work has been highly praised by various organizations and he has been recognized for his contributions to the sport and the community.

Kim Won-Jin is a true role model for aspiring judokas around the world. His hard work and dedication to the sport have enabled him to reach the heights of success, and he serves as an inspiration to those who strive to reach the same level of excellence.

He has achieved a great deal in his career, and his accomplishments will continue to be remembered for years to come.

14. Lee Seung-Su

Lee Seung-su is a highly accomplished South Korean judoka. He is a three-time Olympic medalist, the first being a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He is also a four-time world champion and a three-time Asian champion in the sport.

He is the only judoka to have won both the Olympic and world titles in the same year, accomplishing this feat in 2002. Lee Seung-su began judo at the age of 12 and has since gone on to become one of the most successful judoka in the world.

He was the first South Korean to win an Olympic medal in judo and has since become an icon in the sport. He has also served as a coach for the South Korean national team and has trained numerous world and Olympic champions.

Lee Seung-su has been highly decorated for his accomplishments in judo. He was awarded the Order of Civil Merit by the South Korean president in 2007 and was inducted into the International Judo Federation Hall of Fame in 2010.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest judokas of all time and his achievements will forever be remembered.

15. Cho Yong-chul

Cho Yong-Chul is a South Korean judoka or a practitioner of judo. He is most famous for his success at the 1985 World Judo Championships in Seoul, where he earned a gold medal after beating double Olympic champion Hitoshi Saito in the final of the tournament.

In addition to this triumph, Cho also won two Olympic bronze medals in the heavyweight division at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. Cho’s victory over Saito at the 1985 World Judo Championships has been celebrated as a major accomplishment in the history of judo.

His win was even more impressive because it came via an armlock submission, an uncommonly used move in judo competitions.

This victory helped to solidify Cho’s reputation as a skilled judoka and cemented his place in the sport’s history. Cho’s success has been a source of national pride in South Korea. He is a true example of determination and sportsmanship, having worked hard to achieve his goals.

He continues to be an inspiration to judokas around the world, and his accomplishments will always be remembered.

16. Cho Jun-Ho

Cho Jun-Ho is a highly accomplished judoka from South Korea. He achieved great success in the 2012 Summer Olympics, where he won a bronze medal in the 66 kg event.

This was a great achievement for Cho and it confirmed his status as one of the top judokas in South Korea. In addition to his judo career, Cho has also made a name for himself in other fields.

He is currently the coach of the Korean National Women’s Judo team, helping to bring the team to success. Furthermore, he has made multiple appearances on the Korean television sports variety show, Cool Kiz on the Block, as a coach.

This has given Cho even more recognition in the judo community and has helped to further solidify his reputation as an excellent coach.

17. Wang Ki-chun

Wang Ki-Chun is a former judoka from South Korea who achieved remarkable success in judo. He first gained notoriety when he defeated the 2004 Olympic champion Lee Won-Hee in the qualification matches for both the 2007 World Championships and the 2008 Olympic Games.

This was a remarkable achievement, especially considering Wang was only 19 years old at the time. His impressive performance in the qualification matches earned him a spot at the 2007 World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he went on to win the world title.

This was a remarkable accomplishment for a judoka so young and established Wang Ki-Chun as a judo star. His success was a source of pride for his country and an inspiration to judokas the world over.

18. Jang Sung-ho

Jang Sung-Ho is a highly accomplished South Korean judoka, having won a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. This impressive feat was followed up by another gold medal win at the 2006 Asian Games, where he competed in the –100kg category.

In recognition for his achievements, Jang was chosen to be the flag bearer for his home country at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. This honor is usually bestowed upon those who have achieved great success in their sport and who have brought much pride to their country.

Jang Sung-Ho is certainly one of South Korea’s most successful judokas, and his accomplishments are a testament to his talent and hard work.

19. Cho In-chul

Cho In-Chul is a highly accomplished judo athlete. He has achieved success both at the World Judo Championships and the Olympic Games. At the World Judo Championships, he won three medals, likely exhibiting his tremendous skill and prowess in the sport.

At the Olympic Games, he won two medals, proving that he is able to perform on the grandest of stages. He is an inspiration to many judo athletes around the world, and his accomplishments serve as a reminder that hard work and dedication can take you far.

20. Yoon Dong-sik

Yoon Dong-Sik is a South Korean athlete who has achieved success in two different martial arts disciplines. He is a judoka, a martial art that emphasizes grappling and throws.

He is also a mixed martial artist, which combines elements of kickboxing, judo, wrestling, and other forms of combat. Yoon Dong-Sik is a highly accomplished athlete, having won numerous medals in both judo and mixed martial arts.

In judo, he has won numerous national and international championships as well as the South Korean national title.

In mixed martial arts, he has held titles in the Super Fight League and the Korean Top Team. Yoon Dong-Sik is known for his aggressive style, which has earned him the nickname “The Korean Pitbull”.

He is a black belt in judo and has trained with some of the best martial artists in the world.

He is a true believer in the martial arts way of life, and his dedication to the sport has earned him respect among his peers. Yoon Dong-Sik is a true testament to the power of dedication and hard work.

He has achieved success in both judo and mixed martial arts, and his passion for the martial arts has earned him a place in the pantheon of Korean martial arts greats.


South Korea is home to some of the best judo players in the world. These athletes have achieved remarkable success in the sport, winning numerous medals and accolades in international tournaments.

Their hard work and dedication have enabled them to reach the highest level of judo, making them true inspirations to those aspiring to become successful judo competitors.

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I am a judo coach and sports expert. I have been coaching judo for the past 10 years and have been in the sport for 20 years. My expertise is in judo, but I also know a lot about other sports as well. I am also an author who has written three books on judo. LinkedIn My goal is to help people learn more about sports, especially if they are new to it or want to pick up a new sport.