North Korea wins first medal at Asian Winter Games

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) North Korea won its first medal at the Asian Winter Games on Saturday as Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik won the bronze medal in the figure skating pairs event.

The North Korean pair, third after the short program, received 112.18 points in Saturday's free skating for a total of 177.40 points. Yu Xiaoyu and Zhang Hao of China were first with 223.88 points followed by compatriots Peng Cheng and Jin Yang with 197.06.

''We're very happy with the result,'' Kim said. ''We did not do the free skate as well as we expected but we are happy with the bronze and want to thank the people who supported us.''

Skating to the The Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy, Kim and Ryom under-rotated one of their jumps but otherwise skated a clean program.

''With the experience we got at the Asian Winter Games, our goal is to get higher scores in other international events,'' Kim said.

The Japanese government decided to allow North Korean athletes and officials to enter the country to participate in the Games despite Japan's entry ban on North Korean citizens.

Tokyo will treat the athletes as an exception to its punitive measure taken as part of its sanctions in response to Pyongyang's nuclear tests and rocket launches.

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