Park Joo Bong won gold in the Mixed Doubles event with Chung Myung Hee at the 1988 Olympics when badminton was a demonstration sport. When badminton became an official Olympic event at the 1992 Olympics, Joo Bong added another Olympic gold medal in Men’s Doubles with Kim Moon Soo to his impressive collection. In total, he has won 30 Men’s Doubles titles with Kim Moon Soo and 30 Mixed Doubles titles with Chung Myung Hee internationally. He retired in 1992 and married Lee Soo Jin.
When Mixed Doubles was finally added as an official event at the 1996 Olympics, he came out of retirement to play with a new partner, Ra Kyung Min. They won an Olympic silver medal after losing to Kim Dong Moon and Gil Young Ah in the Mixed Doubles final.
Park Joo Bong was inducted into the IBF Hall of Fame in 2001.
After his successful playing career, Joo Bong has served as the head coach for England and Malaysia. In November 2004, he moved to Japan to work with their badminton team. He is currently the head coach of the Japanese national team. Under his guidance, Japan won its first Olympic silver medal in Women’s Doubles at the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Thomas Cup.
Park Joo Bong was born on December 5, 1964. He is the youngest of 6 children with 3 older brothers and 2 older sisters. His father, Park Myung Soo was a physical education teacher in Pungnam Elementary School. By the time that Joo Bong attended elementary school, he was already a top player. He won the national elementary school title in Boys’ Singles at the age of 11 years old. After elementary school, Joo Bong attended Jeonju West Middle School. In his first year of high school, he was chosen to play first singles in a friendly match between Korean and Japanese high schools. Joo Bong beat Japan’s top high school singles player. With such promising results, Joo Bong entered the national team in November 1980. At that time, he was 16 years old and still in his first year of high school.
In this third year of high school, Joo Bong won the 1982 Denmark open in Men’s Doubles with Lee Eun-Ku. Starting from March 1982, he would win 106 consecutive singles matches in Korea and remain undefeated until December 1985. It was to no one’s surprise that he was sent out to play for Korea at the 1982 Thomas Cup. At the Thomas Cup, Joo Bong won his first 4 matches – 2 singles and 2 doubles. He was only 17 years old and in his third year of high school. It was an injury of 12 months that made him switch permanently to Men’s Doubles. In 1983, he competed at the World Cup in Men’s Doubles with Kim Moon Soo. Joo Bong would win almost all of his Men’s Doubles titles with Moon Soo.
At the next Thomas Cup in 1984, Joo Bong and Moon Soo would be the authors of Korea’s only wins against China and Indonesia at the 1984 Thomas Cup but it was in 1985 that Joo Bong took the world by storm. In 1985, Joo Bong swept away 5 major titles. Along with Kim Moon Soo, the pair won titles in All England, Asian Badminton Championships, Japan Open and the World Championships. His gold medal with Kim Moon Soo at the World Championships was Korea’s first ever gold medal in Men’s Doubles. Joo Bong later said that this gold medal victory was his most thrilling win. At the same World Championships, he won an additional title for Korea in Mixed Doubles with Yoo Sang Hee.
Joo Bong continued his accumulation of titles in 1986. The pair successfully defended their titles at the All England. They beat Jalani and Razif Sidek in the Men’s Doubles final with the decisive scores of 15-2, 15-11. Joo Bong was dubbed the star of the 1986 All England as he won the Mixed Doubles title with Myung Hee as well. He would continue his domination at the All England in later years with a total of 9 All England titles (4 Men’s Doubles, 5 Mixed Doubles). He has won 2 of those Men’s Doubles titles consecutively from 1985-86 and 3 of his Mixed Doubles titles with Myung Hee consecutively from 1989-1991. Joo Bong felt that the All England was special for him because it had a long history.
Joo Bong and Moon Soo also defended their title at the 1986 Asian Games. At the same tournament, he added yet another title in Mixed Doubles with Myung Hee. He won two more titles In Mixed Doubles with her at the 1989 and 1991 World Championships. To rival his Mixed Doubles results, he added another World Championships title in Men’s Doubles with Moon Soo which made him a double crown winner at the 1991 World Championships. By 1991, he held the highest number of titles in the doubles events and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
At the 1988 Seoul Olympics demonstration sports event, Joo Bong won Mixed Doubles with Myung Hee. When badminton debuted at the 1992 Olympics as an official event, Joo Bong and Moon Soo won the Olympic gold in Men’s Doubles. After winning his gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, Joo Bong decided to retire and married Lee Soo Jin. He briefly stepped back onto the court to help Korea retain the 1993 Sudirman Cup before retiring to teach at the prestigious Korea National Sport University (KNSU).
When Joo Bong heard that Mixed Doubles would finally be added as an Olympic event in 1996, he made a comeback debut at the 1995 Hong Kong Open with his new partner, Ra Kyung Min. He won 6 out of the 8 tournaments that he entered with her. Their domination was so impressive that in an interview with the Korean newspaper Dong-a llbo during the 2011 Korea Open, Thomas Lund said “After Park Joo Bong retired, I won the World Championships in 1993 and 1995. In 1996, because he came out of retirement, I gave up on Mixed doubles and Retired.”
At the 1996 Olympics, Joo Bong finished with a silver medal after losing to his compatriots, Kim Dong Moon and Gil Young Ah in the final. After the 1996 Olympics, Joo Bong permanently retired and resumed teaching at KNSU. He was only back for a brief time before he was offered a generous 5-year contract by Badminton England. The association offered him a car and to pay his tuition at the De Monfort University where he could obtain his PhD. Joo Bong wanted very much to become a coach and to learn English. Aside from his personal reasons, he felt that he could help badminton grow by coaching abroad. Little did he know that, his future coaching experiences abroad would enable him to speak not only English but Japanese as well. His foresight would benefit everyone including Korea in the long run. Unable to obtain a leave of absence from KNSU, he quit his prestigious job as the sport science teacher in 1997 to move to England.
Joo Bong coached for England from 1997 to 1999. Living in England was a huge cultural shock for him. In 1999, Malaysia offered him a better contract including 200,000 USD/year, car, apartment and support for a Doctorate in Sports Marketing. Badminton England released Joo Bong from the contract and he parted on amicable terms with the association. In September 1999, Joo Bong arrived in Malaysia with a welcoming entourage of 40 journalists. Appointed as the new head coach of Malaysia, it was said that “England’s loss is Malaysia’s gain.”
In 2001, Joo Bong was inducted into the IBF Hall of Fame. When asked about his success, Joo Bong admitted that he was always hungry for victory. Always after winning a major title, he would feel hollow and became greedy for gold again. Joo Bong talks about his constant quest for excellence in his book Emperor of the Shuttlecock (셔틀콕의황제), which was published in 2004. Despite his immense success in Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles, Joo Bong says that singles holds a special place in his heart.
In 2004, Joo Bong briefly returned to Korea to coach the national team but moved to Japan later in November. With Joo Bong as the head coach of the Japanese team, Japan achieved good results such as winning its first Olympic silver medal in Women’s Doubles in 2012 and winning the 2014 Thomas Cup. Joo Bong said that they have made significant progress over the last ten years in Japan and coaching the Japanese team has been rewarding. Coaching in Japan give him authority that he would not have held as the head coach of the Korean team. In Korea, there are people ranked higher than the head coach who controlled the team. Despite his success with the Japanese team, Joo Bong still hopes to manage team Korea someday.
1996 – IBF Herbert Scheele Award
2001 – IBF Hall of Fame
BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES
All England 1999 Official Programme
Badminton Magazine Japan (Magazine)
International Badminton – the first 75 years
Park Joo Bong
World Badminton (Magazine)
-- By Yves Lacroix