17 Wrestling Players in North Korea Best of All Time

Liam Rooney

North Korea is home to some of the best wrestlers in the world. Wrestling is an important part of North Korean culture, and the country’s wrestlers are renowned for their strength, skill, and technique.

Many of North Korea’s wrestlers have won prestigious medals in international competitions, including Olympic gold medals. North Korea is home to a number of top-level wrestling teams, and its wrestlers have achieved success in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

We will take a look at some of the best wrestlers in North Korea and their impressive achievements.

1. Li Ho-pyong

Li Ho-Pyong is a Korean athlete who had a remarkable career in the sport of wrestling. He was born in the city of Kwangju in South Korea and grew up learning the sport of wrestling from a young age.

He was a talented wrestler and eventually became a three-time national champion in freestyle wrestling. He represented his country at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, where he competed in the lightweight freestyle wrestling event.

Although he was unable to win a medal, he put in an impressive showing and was able to secure an impressive fifth-place finish in the event. Li Ho-Pyong has since retired from competitive wrestling, but his contribution to the sport will not be forgotten.

He is remembered as an incredible athlete who pushed himself to the limits to achieve his best.

2. Kim Gwong-hyong

Kim Gwong-hyong is a legendary figure in Korean athletics. Born in 1945, he was an amateur wrestler who first competed in the 1966 Asian Games. He then went on to represent his country at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

At the 1972 Olympics, Kim competed in the freestyle bantamweight category, and finished in fifth place. His performance was a great achievement, as it was the first time a Korean wrestler had ever competed at the Olympics.

After the Olympics, Kim continued competing in amateur wrestling tournaments and eventually went on to become a coach for the Korean national team. Throughout his career, Kim was known for his sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of wrestling.

He was also a mentor to many young wrestlers and was an inspiration to many aspiring athletes.

Kim Gwong-hyong’s legacy in the world of Korean wrestling will always be remembered, and his achievements at the 1972 Olympics will live on as a source of inspiration for generations to come.

3. Ri Hak-son

Ri Hak-son is a North Korean athlete who has achieved great success in the world of competitive wrestling. He is an Olympic champion in Freestyle wrestling, having won gold medals at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games.

In addition to his Olympic success, he has won multiple gold medals at the Asian and World Championships. He is one of the most decorated and successful wrestlers from the North Korean region. Ri Hak-son is known for his technical ability and strength on the mat.

He is a strategic wrestler, relying on sound technique and timing to outwit his opponents. He is capable of executing a variety of takedowns, reversals, and throws, and is adept at finding openings in his opponent’s defenses.

His style is often described as aggressive and dynamic, with a focus on control and dominance. Ri Hak-son’s success has been an inspiration to many aspiring wrestlers from North Korea, and his accomplishments have had a significant impact on the sport of Freestyle wrestling in the region.

His legacy continues to live on, and his name is widely respected in the wrestling community. He is a living example of what an athlete can achieve if they are willing to put in the hard work and dedication necessary to reach the top.

4. Kang Yong-gyun

Kang Yong-gyun is a North Korean wrestler who has achieved great success in his sport. He competed in the Men’s Graeco-Roman 54 kg at the 2000 Summer Olympics and won the bronze medal, making him the first North Korean wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics.

He also competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics at 48 kg, where he finished in fourth place. Furthermore, he has also been a multiple-time gold medallist at the World Military Games, as well as a two-time silver medallist at the 1998 and 2002 Asian Games.

In total, Kang Yong-gyun has achieved seven medals in international wrestling competitions, making him one of the most successful North Korean wrestlers of all time.

5. Jong Myong-suk

Jong Myong-suk is an accomplished wrestler from North Korea who has achieved great success on the international stage. She is a three-time world champion, having won the bronze medal at the 2014, 2015, and 2018 World Wrestling Championships.

Her accomplishments are even more impressive considering the fact that she competes in a sport that is not widely supported in her home country. Myong-suk has achieved a level of success that few North Korean athletes have been able to reach, and she has become an inspiration for other female athletes in her homeland.

Her achievements have been highlighted in the media, and she has been praised for her hard work and dedication to the sport. Her bronze medal victories at the world championships have put North Korea on the map in the world of international wrestling.

Myong-suk’s success on the wrestling mat has been a source of pride for the North Korean people and has helped to promote the sport in her country. Her success has also shown that women are capable of achieving success in a field that is traditionally dominated by men.

Her accomplishments are an example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication, and she has become an example to many aspiring wrestlers from North Korea.

6. Ri Yong-sam

Ri Yong-sam is a North Korean wrestler who achieved great success at the Olympic Games and the Asian Games. In 1996, he won a bronze medal in the men’s Freestyle Bantamweight category at the Summer Olympics.

Four years later in 2000, he competed at the Summer Olympics again, though he did not manage to win a medal. However, his greatest success came at the 1998 Asian Games, where he won a gold medal.

This is a great achievement for any athlete, and it earned Ri Yong-sam recognition and respect as a talented and hardworking wrestler.

He is an inspiration for other North Korean athletes who strive to achieve similar success, and his accomplishments serve as a reminder of the potential of North Korean athletes.

7. Jin Ju-dong

Jin Ju-Dong is a well-known Korean athlete who achieved international fame in the sport of wrestling.

He represented his country in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and was the first Korean wrestler to ever compete in the Games. In the 2000 Olympics, Jin Ju-Dong competed in the Greco-Roman wrestling event.

He achieved great success in the competition, reaching the quarterfinals and earning a bronze medal. This earned him a great deal of respect from both his fellow athletes and from the Korean public.

He was even awarded the Order of Civil Merit by the government of South Korea for his performance. Jin Ju-Dong’s career in wrestling did not end with the Olympics.

He went on to become a coach and referee in the sport, and he was even part of the Korean delegation to the 2008 Olympics.

He has also coached the Korean national wrestling team, helping them to achieve several international medals. Jin Ju-Dong is a living legend in the sport of wrestling and an inspiring example to all Korean athletes.

His hard work and dedication to the sport have earned him a lasting place in the annals of Korean sporting history.

8. Ri Jong-Myong

Ri Jong-myong is a North Korean wrestler who represented his country at the 2010 Asian Games. Unfortunately, he was unable to secure a victory, losing to Dauren Zhumagaziyev.

Despite this setback, he was determined to show his strength and courage, and so he was selected to represent North Korea at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Men’s freestyle 60 kg category.

He put up a strong fight but ended up standing 5th, losing to Yogeshwar Dutt of India 1–3. This result was not what he had been hoping for, but he displayed excellent sportsmanship and determination throughout his competition.

Ri Jong-myong has become a role model for other North Korean athletes, showing that dedication and hard work can lead to success, even when the odds are stacked against you.

9. Kim Il

Kim Il is a renowned North Korean freestyle wrestler who has achieved considerable success in his career. He won two gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics in the light flyweight category, a feat which is considered to be an extraordinary accomplishment.

Additionally, he was awarded a silver medal at the 1991 World Championships, further solidifying his standing in the sport.

In 2006, Kim Il was inducted into the Federation Internationale de Luttes Associates Hall of Fame, a recognition of his significant contributions to the world of freestyle wrestling.

This honor is only bestowed upon the most distinguished of athletes, and Kim Il’s inclusion in this esteemed group is a testament to his skill and dedication to the sport.

10. Jo Yong-son

Jo Yong-son is a North Korean wrestler who competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He participated in the men’s freestyle 63 kg category at the event.

This category is a type of wrestling that involves two competitors using a variety of grappling techniques in an attempt to take their opponent down to the ground.

The objective of this style of grappling is to get a grip on your opponent and control them in order to score more points. Yong-son was one of the most decorated wrestlers from North Korea.

He had been competing in wrestling competitions since the late 1990s and had won several national and international titles. He was a favorite to win the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics but unfortunately, he was defeated in the quarterfinals by Iranian wrestler, Ali Reza Heidari.

Despite the setback, Yong-son was still one of the most respected wrestlers in his home country and he continued to compete in international events. He retired from active competition in 2006 but still remains an important figure in the North Korean wrestling community.

11. Yang Kiong Il

Yang Kyong-Il is a world-renowned freestyle wrestler from North Korea. He is a two-time world champion and won a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

His accomplishments are a testament to his immense talent and dedication to the sport. Kyong-Il began wrestling in his early teens, training under the tutelage of his father, a former wrestler himself.

He quickly rose through the ranks and was selected to represent North Korea at the 2012 Summer Olympics. There, he met with success, winning a bronze medal in the men’s freestyle wrestling event.

He followed this up with two world championship titles, cementing his reputation as one of the best freestyle wrestlers in the world. Kyong-Il is a role model for aspiring wrestlers, demonstrating that hard work and determination can lead to success.

His accomplishments have inspired many of his countrymen to take up the sport and follow in his footsteps. He is a true example of what is possible when one puts their mind to it.

12. Jang Se-hong

Jang Se-hong is a former light-flyweight freestyle wrestler from North Korea. He was part of the North Korean team that competed in international wrestling tournaments, and he achieved great success during his career.

Jang Se-hong was a perennial contender at the 1978 Asian Games, where he eventually won a silver medal. His success continued at the 1980 Olympics, where he again took home a silver medal, making him one of the top wrestlers in the world.

Jang Se-hong’s success as a freestyle wrestler was an impressive feat, especially considering the high level of competition he faced from other countries.

Despite his success, Jang Se-hong retired after the 1980 Olympics, but his legacy remains as one of the most successful light-flyweight freestyle wrestlers from North Korea.

His accomplishments are a testament to the hard work and dedication he put in to becoming a successful wrestler.

13. Han Kum-Ok

Han Kum-ok is a North Korean freestyle wrestler who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She participated in the freestyle 55 kg event, which is a weight class for women’s wrestling.

Her Olympic journey came to an end in the 1/8 finals, where she was defeated by Colombian wrestler Jackeline Rentería. Despite the defeat, Kum-ok can still take pride in her accomplishment of competing in the 2012 Olympics.

This was a great achievement for the North Korean wrestler, as it showed that she was able to compete on the world’s largest stage. The match between Kum-ok and Rentería was a close one, with Rentería winning by a score of 4-2.

Although she was unable to advance past the 1/8 finals, Kum-ok still performed admirably at the Olympics and should be proud of her accomplishment.

14. Yun Won-Chol

Yun Won-Chol is a Greco-Roman wrestler from North Korea who competes in the men’s featherweight category. He is an amateur wrestler, meaning that he does not compete professionally.

Yun had the opportunity to represent his home country at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where he competed in the men’s 55 kg category. This was a great honor for Yun, and he was proud to be able to represent North Korea at such a prestigious event.

It was also a great opportunity for him to showcase his abilities on a global stage. Yun is a highly skilled wrestler and was able to make it to the final rounds of the competition in London, even though he was up against some of the best in the world.

15. Cha Kwang-su

Cha Kwang-Su is an accomplished amateur wrestler from North Korea who specializes in Greco-Roman wrestling. He has achieved success in the men’s featherweight division, winning a bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

This was an impressive feat, especially when you consider the high level of competition in this sport. Cha Kwang-Su has also achieved success at the Asian Wrestling Championships, adding three more medals to his collection.

He must possess a great deal of skill and dedication to the sport to have been able to compete at such a high level. His success is a testament to the hard work and dedication that he has put into his training and competition.

16. O Song-nam

O Song-nam is a retired North Korean freestyle wrestler who had a successful career in the featherweight division. He achieved great success at the 2004 Asian Wrestling Championships, where he placed sixth in the 55-kg division in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Following this success, O Song-nam was selected to represent his country North Korea at the Summer Olympics a few months later. His selection was a reward for his impressive performance at the Asian Wrestling Championships, where he proved himself to be a formidable athlete.

O Song-nam has since retired from the sport, but his achievements are still remembered by fans of North Korean wrestling.

His success at the 2004 Asian Wrestling Championships was a major milestone for North Korean wrestling and he is still considered an inspiration for other aspiring North Korean wrestlers.

His career has shown that North Korea is capable of producing world-class athletes and that even the most difficult of challenges can be overcome.

17. Yang Chun-song

Yang Chun-Song is a male freestyle wrestler from North Korea who competed in the Men’s freestyle 66 kg event at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He had a strong showing in the tournament, making it to the 1/8 of the final.

Unfortunately, he was eliminated in that round of the competition, losing to Albert Batyrov of Russia. This loss ended his Olympic journey, but Yang Chun-Song should still be commended for his performance in the tournament.

He showed great skill and determination in making it so far in the competition and will be remembered for his accomplishments.


North Korea has some of the best wrestling players in the world. They have won several international tournaments and have a proud tradition of excellence in the sport. Their wrestlers are well-trained and disciplined and are some of the best in the world.

North Korean wrestlers have proven time and again that they can compete at the highest levels and are a force to be reckoned with in any competition.

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Liam Rooney

Recent Florida International University graduate with a passion for journalism and a focus on sports, especially in wrestling. Recognized with a 3rd place award in the Society of Professional Journalist's Green Eyeshade awards for outstanding coverage of FIU men's soccer. Experienced in local news, breaking stories, and community reporting from an internship at the Palm Beach Post. Hosted and produced a radio show, adept at creating video packages. Eager to embrace diverse journalistic opportunities beyond sports, bringing a versatile skill set and a relentless drive for excellence to the field.