Ri Se-gwang (Korean리세광; born January 21, 1985) is a North Korean artistic gymnast,[1] representing the April 25 Sports Club.[2] He can easily be considered a specialist on vault apparatus within the sport of men’s artistic gymnastics.

Ri Se-gwang
Full nameRi Se-gwang
Country represented North Korea
Born (1985-01-21) January 21, 1985 (age 35)
South Hamgyong, North Korea
HometownPyongyang, North Korea
Height155 cm (5 ft 1 in)
Weight54 kg (119 lb)
DisciplineMen's artistic gymnastics
ClubApril 25 Sports Club
Eponymous skillsRi Se Gwang (vault): full-twisting double Tsukahara
Ri Se Gwang 2 (vault): front handspring double piked ½ twist
Ri Se-gwang
Revised RomanizationI Segwang
McCune–ReischauerRi Segwang


Ri was the first North Korean ever to win a gold medal on vault at the Asian Games, where he performed solidly at the 2006 Asian Games and was the first one for North Korea on that apparatus.[1] He later went on to win a bronze medal on vault at the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

In 2009, Ri successfully performed an extremely difficult new vault, a Tsukahara (1/4 entry in the first flight) on the vaulting table, followed by a full twisting double backwards salto in tuck position.[3] The new vault is named after Ri.[2] The vault, now officially named the Ri Se Gwang, was valued a difficulty score of 7.2 and the second highest difficulty value in the world, with Yang Hak Seon's vault the Yang Hak Seon (front handspring triple twist) being the most difficult with a start value of 7.4 in the previous 2009-2012 Code of Points for men's artistic gymnastics (MAG).

Ri competed in the 2009 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and qualified first for the individual vault final. He finished in seventh place in that event final after a fall on his first vault and going out of bounds on his second vault, with an average score of 15.650.

Together with the entire North Korean delegation team, Ri was banned from competing in artistic gymnastics at the 2012 London Olympics due to persistent issues with regards to age falsification accusations of their female gymnasts. The two-year ban ended on October 5, 2012, which came just a bit too late to try make that cycle's August Olympic Games.

At the 2014 Asian Games, Ri qualified in first place ahead of the 2012 Olympic champion on vault, Yang Hak Seon of South Korea, but finished just missing the bronze medal by the narrowest of margins (0.001) with an average combined score of 14.799 on the individual vault event behind Shek Wai Hung of Hong Kong (15.216), Yang Hak Seon (15.200) and Hung Xi of China (14.800).

At the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships held in Nanning, China, Ri defeated the reigning World and Olympic Champion Yang Hak Seon after Yang crashed in both his vaults during the event final, and won the gold medal with an average combined score of 15.413 ahead of Ihor Radivilov of Ukraine (15.333), 2012 Olympic bronze medalist on vault, and Jacob Dalton go the United States (15.199). Ri won thanks to the quad's highest difficulty scores of 6.4 assigned to both his vaults, and despite incurring a 0.3 penalty for stepping out-of-bounds in his second vault.

On November 1, 2015, Ri participated in the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, and successfully defended his individual vault title. He won with an average combined scored of 15.450 ahead of veteran Marian Drăgulescu of Romania (15.400) and Donnell Whittenburg of the United States (15.350).

With the defending 2012 Olympic vault champion Yang Hak Seon of South Korea out injured, Ri won gold in the individual vault final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.[4]

At the 2018 Asian Games, Ri qualified in sixth place and finished in fifth place with an average combined score of 13.400 on the individual vault event behind the 2014 defending Asian Games champion on vault, Shek Wai Hung of Hong Kong (14.612), who also qualified for the 2018 individual vault event final in first place.

At the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Ri won gold with two of the highest 6.0 difficulty vaults and an average combined score of 14.933 ahead of Artur Dalaloyan of Russia (14.883) and Kenzō Shirai of Japan (14.675).

Competitive historyEdit

Year Event Team AA FX PH SR VT PB HB
2005 East Asian Games  
2006 Asian Championships  
Asian Games  
World Championships  
2009 Summer Universiade    
World Championships N/A 7
2011 North Korea banned from international competition
2014 Asian Games 4
World Championships  
World Championships  
Olympic Games  
2018 Asian Games 5
World Championships  

Eponymous skillsEdit

Ri is the only gymnast to currently own more than one (two) of only five most difficult vaults to have officially been awarded the highest difficulty score (D-score) of 6.0 by the governing body of all disciplines in competitive gymnastics, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), in their most recent 2017–2020 Code of Points for MAG.

Apparatus Name Description Difficulty Notes
Vault Ri Se Gwang backward full-twisting double (tucked) Tsukahara 6.0 difficulty was initially assessed lower than Yang Hak Seon but has since been elevated to match it
Vault Ri Se Gwang 2 forward front handspring double piked somersault with half twist, or "Drăgulescu piked" 6.0 more commonly called "Drăgulescu piked" in practice and second of only five vaults with the highest D-score


  1. ^ a b "DPR Korean wins men's vault gold at Asiad gymnastics". People's Daily Online (English). 2006-12-07. Archived from the original on 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  2. ^ a b "April 25 Sports Team of DPRK Proves Successful in Int'l Tournaments This Year". web.archive.org. KCNA. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Ri Se Gwang training vault in slow motion". 2009-07-02. Archived from the original on 2017-03-08.
  4. ^ "Se Gwang Ri". Rio 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-08-15. Retrieved 15 August 2016.

External linksEdit