KUNSHAN: Hot favourites China and defending champions Japan were dumped out of the Thomas Cup Finals on a day of seismic shocks in the quarter-finals at Kunshan Sports Centre Gymnasium.
China crashed out 1-3 in the hands of South Korea while Japan went down 2-3 to Denmark on Thursday.
In the semi-finals on Friday, Denmark face 2014 runners-up Malaysia (7pm) while South Korea take on Indonesia (1pm).
World No. 1 Chen Long was a letdown for China when he failed to subdue Son Wan-ho in the first singles.
Wan-ho punished an error-strewn Chen Long by carving out a 21-12, 16-21, 21-15 win.
South Korea extended the lead to 2-0 through Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong, who silenced the crowd with a fantastic 23-25, 23-21, 21-12 win over Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan.
Olympic champion Lin Dan momentarily kept alive China's interest by beating Lee Dong-keun 21-10, 21-15-21 but youngsters Li Junhui-Zheng Siwei were no match for world No. 4 Korean pair Kim Gi-jung-Kim Sa-rang.
They romped away with a 21-15, 21-18 win in 32 minutes to spark celebrations in their camp as the Chinese shuttlers watched in stony silence.
China last won the Thomas Cup at the 2012 edition in Wuhan but this is the second successive time that they have failed in their bid to reach the final.
China lost to Japan 0-3 in the semi-finals in New Delhi two years ago.
Chen Long accepted the blame for China’s downfall.
"I did not play well in the first game. Wan-ho's style of play is similar to mine and he did better. He was more patient than me,” said Chen Long.
“I was impatient and became nervous when I could not win points from my attacking shots.”
It was also a night of misery for Japan when newly crowned European champion Viktor Axelsen served them with a first blow by beating Sho Sasaki 21-13, 21-16.
Scratch pair Mathias Boe-Mads Conrad-Petersen extended Denmark's lead with a 21-16, 21-17 upset win over Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa.
Japan charged back to level the tie through sensational wins by Takuma Ueda and Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda but it all ended in vain as Hans-Kristian Vittinghus overcame Riichi Takeshita 23-21, 21-17 in the decider.
Denmark have reached the final eight times but have yet to lift the Thomas Cup title.
Their last appearance in the final was in the 2006 edition in Japan where they were beaten 0-3 by China and Axelsen, the former world junior champion, is hoping they will make it this time.
"We are getting closer,” said the world number four Axelsen.
"Sasaki may be a little bit tired as he took China's Chen Long the distance before losing in rubber games (22-20, 17-21, 12-21), so he was not at his best."We have prepared well for this tournament. We have to be at our best against Malaysia. It could be a tight affair between both teams," he added.