Chung So Young was born on February 20, 1967, in Gimje, North Jeolla, Korea.
Chung began appearing on the badminton scene during her high school years. She attended the Gunsan Girls’ High School in Gunsan. When Chung was in her second year of high school, she reached the semi-finals of the 1984 Korean National Championships in Women’s singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Shortly after Chung turned 18 years old, she reached the semi-final of the 1985 Danish Open with Hwang Hye Young. The following year, she went all the way to the final in Mixed Doubles with Lee Deuk Choon but fell to compatriots, Park Joo Bong and Chung Myung Hee.
Chung won her first international title with Kim Yun Ja in Women’s Doubles at the 1987 Hong Kong Open. Just a month later, Chung and Kim bronzed at the World Championships in Beijing after losing out to the eventual winners, Lin Ying and Guan Weizhen of China.
Chung played in the golden era of Korean Women’s Doubles from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The Koreans are notorious for constantly mixing up their pairs and it was no exception in Chung’s case. The Korean legend won over forty individual titles in both Women’s Doubles and Mixed doubles with no fewer than thirteen different partners (Park Joo Bong, Kim Yun Ja, Kim Ho Ja, Lee Deuk Choon, Hwang Hye Young, Chung Myung Hee, Lee Sang Bok, Yoo Yong Sung, Kim Dong Moon, Gil Young Ah, Jang Hye Ock, Kim Moon Soo, and Choi Sang Beom).
Chung won five titles at the All England (1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994) with four different partners in Women’s Doubles. She also won three titles in Women’s Doubles (1987, 1988, 1993) and two titles in Mixed Doubles (1987, 1996) at the US Open. All of her titles at the US Open were won with different partners.
In 1988, Chung was chosen to represent Korea at the Olympic Games Demonstration Event held in Seoul. She played with Kim Yun Ja and the pair won the event with a triumph over Lin Ying and Guan Weizhen in the final.
At the inaugural Sudirman Cup in 1989, Korea played against Indonesia in the final round. Chung and Hwang were sent to play the second match against Yanti Kusmiati and Verawaty. They defeated the Indonesians and scored a point for Korea. Chung was sent out a second time with Park to secure the final and deciding point of the tie. However, Chung and Park were up against a vengeful Verawaty who returned to play the Mixed Doubles with Eddy Hartono. Verawaty and Hartono crushed Korea’s hopes with a win of 18-13, 15-3 over Chung and Park. With the final point from Mixed Doubles, Indonesia won the tie 3-2 over Korea and the Sudirman Cup.
At the 1990 Asian Games, Chung and Gil were runners-up in Women’s Doubles after losing to Guan Weizhen and Nong Qunhua in the final 11-15, 4-15. Chung also won the Korea Open four consecutive times in Women’s Doubles from 1991-1994. She shared the first two titles with Hwang and the latter two with Gil.
In 1991, Chung and her teammates returned to the Sudirman Cup for another try at the cup. They met Indonesia again in the final round. Chung and Hwang swept aside Rosiana Tendean and Erma Sulistyaningsih with the scores of 15-6, 15-7 to earn a point for Korea. Once again, it came down to the fifth and deciding match. This time, fortune has turned in their favour and Korea defeated Indonesia 3-2.
In 1992, Chung and Hwang won the Olympic Test Tournament which was played in the official venue in Barcelona. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics Games was the first time that badminton was included as a full-fledged sport with all events except for Mixed Doubles. Chung and Hwang had no problems reaching the finals with easy wins in their first three rounds. Things would prove to be more difficult against China’s Guan Weizhen and Nong Qunhua. The Women’s Doubles final was the tightest final of the tournament. The first game was a close affair that went to deuce before the Koreans cinched the game. The Chinese won the second game 12-15 to pull it even with the Koreans. The Koreans were leading 14-13 in the third game when Chung served short to the front doubles service line. The Chinese deemed the service out and let the shuttle fall but it was judged in to end the game 15-13 in the favour of the Koreans. Chung and Hwang leaped in the air in celebration and embraced each other before falling to the ground.
After the Games, Chung mostly partnered with Gil. Chung and Gil won multiple titles including back to back victories at the All England (1993, 1994), Japan Open (1993, 1994), Korea Open (1993, 1994), Swedish Open (1993, 1994).
The defending champions returned to the 1993 Sudirman to prolong their reign. For a third consecutive time, Korea faced off Indonesia in the final. Chung and Gil needed to go three games to defeat Finarshi and Lili Tampi 6-15, 17-15, 15-11. Once again, it went down the fifth and deciding match and Korea triumphed over Indonesia 3-2 for a second consecutive gold medal at the 1993 Sudirman Cup.
At the 1994 Asian Games, Chung won a silver medal in Women’s Doubles with Gil and a gold medal in the Mixed Doubles with Yoo Yong Sung. She was also a key member of the winning Korea squad in the Women’s Double Event. Apart from a brief comeback at the 1996 US Open, the 1994 Asian Games was the last time that Chung played for Korea on the international stage.
After her playing career, Chung married Kim Beom Shik. Her husband was from the same province in Korea and also played on the national team. He later began coaching for the storied badminton team at Masan Sungji Girls’ Middle School and later Sungji Girls’ High School. All of their three daughters – Kim Hye Jeong, Kim So Jeong and Kim Yoo Jeong – began playing badminton in Masan.
In 2000, Chung left Jeonbuk Bank badminton team to join her husband who was also a physical education teacher in Masan. She established there the “Chung So Young Athletic Badminton School.”
Chung mainly promoted badminton among recreational players but moved back to her hometown to begin coaching at the Sungshim Girls’s High School in Jeonju around 2015. From 2016, her two younger daughters joined her in Jeonju. As of 2018, So Jeong was in Sungshim Girls’ High School being coached by her mother while Yoo Jeong was in Sungshim Girls’ Middle School.
Chung So Young was inducted into the IBF Hall of Fame in 2003.
2003 – IBF Hall of Fame
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
2001 US Open Official Programme
2012 Indonesia Open Program Book
Badminton World Federation – Statutes 2007/2008
International Badminton – the first 75 years
World Badminton (Magazine)
-- By Yves Lacroix