World Taekwondo President Choue leads delegation to North Korea with message of peace
WT President Chungwon Choue is one of 49 members of the organisation’s staff to travel to Pyongyang at the invitation of the separate International Taekwondo Federation (ITF).
It is the latest example of sport being used as a tool to build bridges on the Korean peninsula, where South and North Korea technically remain at war.
As taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art the visit to the North’s capital is seen as particularly poignant.
Choue has been joined by World Taekwondo vice presidents Ahmed Fouly and John Kotsifas, Council member Angelo Cito and secretary general Hoss Rafaty.
He has met North Korean ITF president Ri Yong Son to discuss how to widen cooperation between the two federations for the good of the sport.
“Taekwondo comes from the same root,” Choue said.
“Taekwondo can bind them closely together and play a key role in promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“Many World Taekwondo member countries and executives said they are proud of the fact that taekwondo played an important role in improving relations between South and North Korea.
“I believe the sport will be remembered by many for its great contribution for peace.”
Taekwondo was formed before the Koreas separated into two countries.
Both World Taekwondo and the ITF signed a Protocol of Accord, in which they agreed to cooperate for a “better future”, in 2014.
This had the full endorsement of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
World Taekwondo is based in South Korea’s capital Seoul and runs the Olympic version of the sport.
The ITF’s headquarters are located in Vienna.
“There will be many challenges and obstacles, but if we cooperate, we will be able to give a gift of a unified taekwondo to our people and the world,” Ri told the guests during a dinner at Yanggakdo Hotel.
As part of the visit, the World Taekwondo demonstration team will perform at Pyongyang’s Taekwondo Hall today.
They will then be joined by the ITF team for a joint performance at the same venue on Friday (November 2).
World Taekwondo’s team performed in North Korea before the Inter-Korean Summit on April 27, when leaders Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un met for historic talks.
A joint demonstration also took place at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in the South in February, when both countries marched together at the Opening Ceremony and formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.