Han Pil-Hwa

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameHan•Pil-Hwa
Used nameHan•Pil-Hwa
Name orderOriental
Original name한•필화
Born21 January 1942 in Nampo, Pyeongannam (PRK)
Measurements170 cm / 61 kg
NOC Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1


Han Pil-Hwa is the only North Korean speed skater to have ever won an Olympic medal. She first appeared on the international skating scene at the 1963 World Championships in Karuizawa, where she finished 4th in the 500 m and placed 12th overall. Next year, she participated in the 1964 Olympics. Lydia Skoblikova seemed certain of her fourth title of the Games in the 3000 m, when Han, skating in the last pair, surprisingly matched her split times. Although she faded a little in the second half of the race, Han finished second, tying with Valentina Stenina. As with more North Korean skaters, Han’s international appearances were marked by periods of absence, and little was heard from her between 1968 and her last Olympic appearance in 1972. She did, however, compete in five World Championships, placing 5th in 1965 and winning a distance medal in the 3000 m in 1966.

In the 1980s, Han coached Song Hwa-Son, who won a bronze medal at the 1984 World Junior Championships. She was elected into the North Korean parliament in 1998, and continued working for the North Korean Skating Association. Han’s older brother, Han Pil-Seong, was separated from the rest of the family with the 1953 Korean armistice and lives in South Korea. Since then, he and Pil-Hwa have been able to speak to each other only twice; in a phone call in the early 1970s, and at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo in 1990, which Pil-Hwa attended as a coach.

Personal Bests: 500 – 44.9 (1970); 1000 – 1:32.3 (1970); 1500 – 2:24.2 (1970); 3000 – 5:03.7 (1970).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1964 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) PRK Han Pil-Hwa
500 metres, Women (Olympic) 28
1,500 metres, Women (Olympic) 9
3,000 metres, Women (Olympic) =2 Silver
1972 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) PRK Han Pil-Hwa
1,000 metres, Women (Olympic) =12
1,500 metres, Women (Olympic) 13
3,000 metres, Women (Olympic) 9

Special Notes