1st WTF
Taekwondo Poomsae Championships (singles)
 
WTF Membership:
 182 as of end of December 2006
Preparations for World Taekwondo Championships in Beijing Go Smoothly

With about five months to go before the opening of the 2007 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Beijing, China, preparations for the biennial sporting event are going smoothly, organizers say.

 

1st Int'l Taekwondo Symposium Set for May 2007
WTF Signs Agreement with ITF on Formation of Taekwondo Integration Coordination Committee
WTF Holds Several Committee meetings
Taekwondo Song Contest Kicks Off
IOC President Praises Revised WTF Competition Rules
WTF Opens Liaison Office in Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec. 1
Interview with Uruguayan Ambassador to Korea
Taekwondo is for Everyone : Interview with WTF President

Preparations for 2007 World Taekwondo Championships in Beijing Go Smoothly

With about five months to go before the opening of the 2007 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Beijing, China, preparations for the biennial sporting event are going smoothly, organizers say.

The 18th WTF World Taekwondo Championships are scheduled for May 18-22, 2007.

The venue of the championships is the Changping Gymnasium, which is under renovation and is to be completed in late 2006.

For the championships, which take place one year before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China established its Organizing Committee in May 2006.

"The preparatory work for the 2007 Beijing World Taekwondo Championships is under way as scheduled," said Mr. Mu Ben, vice director of the Beijing Sports Competitions Administration Center.

Mr. Mu said, "The taekwondo competition has been included among the four major international sporting events to be held in Beijing in 2007." "As the competition will be held only one year before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Organizing Committee is devoting most of its energy and time to the successful preparation of the championships."

Leading a 12-member Chinese delegation, Mr. Mu visited the headquarters of the World Taekwondo Federation for working-level talks with the WTF on the championships on Nov. 23-24, 2006.

"The sheer number of delegates this time shows our strong determination to make the next championships a great success," Mr. Mu said.

Among the delegation members were Mrs. Wang Yu Ling, a vice director of the Beijing Sports Competitions Administration Center; and Mr. Zhao Lei, vice president and secretary general of the Chinese Taekwondo Association.

The WTF-promoted championships will be hosted by the Beijing Municipal Government, with the Chinese Taekwondo Association and the Beijing Bureau of Sports Administration serving as co-organizers.

The Organizing Committee consists of eight departments: departments on competition, security, media & communication, logistics, marketing, international relations, medical, and the General Office.

"We will do our utmost to make the championships one of the most wonderful and successful taekwondo events, and the championships are very meaningful as the year 2007 marks the 15th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between China and Korea," said Mr. Zhao.

Mr. Zhao said, "The Changping Gymnasium is renovated from the existing cycling velodrome. After the completion of the gym, it will become the largest indoor gymnasium in Asia, which will cover an area of more than 22,000 sq. meters, with a field of play of 8,000 sq. meters."

The Changping Gymnasium, which could accommodate about 6,000 spectators, is located in the famous recreation and scenic area in Beijing and is adjacent to the Great Wall. "To get to the venue, it will take about 30 to 40 minutes from downtown Beijing by car," Mr. Zhao said.

The venue of the championships was changed from the Beijing Collegiate Gymnasium, which has a maximum seating capacity of 3,000 people.

"Given the importance of the 2007 championships, we decided to change the venue into the bigger, modern one," Mr. Zhao said.

The Organizing Committee said that it "will offer the best ever services -ranging from airport reception and security to transportation and accommodation - to the worldwide athletes and relevant officials participating in the Beijing championships."

They predict a record number of countries would visit Beijing for the championships. A total of 115 countries dispatched their athletes and officials to Madrid, Spain, for the previous World Taekwondo Championships in April 2005.

The Organizing Committee said it would open an official Web site for the championships in both English and Chinese.

The Beijing World Taekwondo Championships could be the first major taekwondo event, in which the official WTF taekwondo anthem will be played for the first time. The WTF embarked on a worldwide contest for the taekwondo anthem in November 2006.

As special programs, the Organizing Committee said it would invite athletes and officials to the Great Wall during non-competition period.

"The planned international taekwondo symposium shortly before the opening of the championships in Beijing would also make the taekwondo event much more prestigious," said Mr. Zhao.

The WTF Council meeting is scheduled for May 15, with both the WTF General Assembly and the opening ceremony of the championships set for May 17.

The Organizing Committee said it plans to promote its championships, in cooperation with the WTF, during SportAccord 2007, a premier international sports convention, which will take place at the Shangri-la Hotel in Beijing on April 23-27, 2007. The WTF has secured an exhibition booth at the SportAccord venue.

1st Int'l Taekwondo Symposium Set for May 2007

An international taekwondo symposium will be held on a regular basis on the occasion of the World Taekwondo Championships starting in 2007.

For the taekwondo seminar, the World Taekwondo Federation signed a memorandum of understanding with Kyung Hee Univerisity on Oct. 20, 2006 in a ceremony at the headquarters of the WTF in Seoul.

Under the agreement, Kyung Hee Univeristy, the largest private school in Korea, will closely cooperate with the WTF and the Capital Institute of Physical Education in Beijing, China, to hold the international taekwondo symposium.

Under the main theme "The Pursuit of World Peace Through Fair Play," the inaugural International Taekwondo Symposium, accordingly, is scheduled to take place at the Capital Institute of Physical Education on May 16 and 17, 2007.

The next WTF World Taekwondo Championships are to start on May 18, 2007, in Beijing, China, for a five-day run.

"About 250 people are expected to attend the first international taekwondo seminar, which would greatly contribute to the promotion of taekwondo around the world," said Prof. Jong-kook Song of the College of Physical Education, Kyung Hee University.

Prof. Song, who is in charge of the organization of the international taekwondo symposium, said all preparations are going smoothly. "Through the regular symposium, we can shed new lights on taekwondo in a more systematic and academic manner."

WTF Signs Agreement with ITF on Formation of Taekwondo Integration Coordination Committee

DOHA, Qatar --- The World Taekwondo Federation and the International Taekwondo Federation agreed on the establishment of a coordination committee to discuss integration matters of the two taekwondo bodies here on Dec. 2, 2006.

The agreement was signed between WTF President Chungwon Choue and ITF President Ung Chang, the North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee.

Under the agreement, the two parties will set up the Coordination Committee for Taekwondo Integration, which will start on simultaneous discussions regarding the integration of technical and administrative aspects of the two taekwondo bodies.

Both parties, however, agreed to first reach an agreement on the integration of technical matters before any decision can be taken on administrative integration, in respect of their initial agreement on June 28, 2005.

The committee will consist of one co-chairman at the vice-presidential level and three to five members, including the chairman of the Technical Committee, from each party.

The two sides met on four occasions in Beijing, China for the formation of the coordination committee.

The integration talks between the two taekwondo organizations restarted after the meeting among the presidents of the IOC, the WTF and the ITF, at the IOC headquarters on June 3, 2005.

On Sept. 20, 2006, the three met again at the headquarters of the IOC, where the IOC president coordinated the ongoing WTF-ITF talks. The IOC President proposed that the coordination committee start simultaneously discussions on technical and administrative aspects of the two bodies "under the condition that an agreement should first be reached on the subject of integration of technical rules before any decision can be taken on administrative merger integration."

 

WTF Holds Several Committee meetings

The World Taekwondo Federation held a series of committee meetings in late October and early November to discuss major issues such as dan certification, Paralympics and reform evaluation.

In its effort to unify the dan certification procedures of its member national associations, the WTF conducted an ad-hoc Committee on Dan Certification meeting in its headquarters in Seoul, Korea, on Oct. 30-31, 2006.

The committee was chaired by Mr. Dai Soon Lee, vice president of the WTF and president of the Asian Taekwondo Union. The committee members included Mr. Sang Kuen Song, vice president of the Kukkiwon, which is the training academy for taekwondo; Prof. Kyu Seok Lee, vice president of the ATU; and all the secretaries general of the WTF's five continental unions.

The meeting was fruitful, with all parties managing to agree on the same principles. In particular, the committee agreed with Dr. Chungwon Choue, president of the WTF, that all parties should work closely together in unifying the dan certification standards and procedures. This would create a strong sense of solidarity within the taekwondo community worldwide.

In July 2006, the WTF General Assembly approved amendments to the Rules and Regulations of the WTF. One of the significant changes was the creation of a Paralympic Committee to oversee the propagation of poomsae, a discipline of taekwondo, to athletes and persons with disabilities.

The newly created Paralympic Committee convened in the WTF headquarters on Nov. 3-4. The committee was chaired by Mr. Tae Eun Lee of Canada, auditor of the WTF. In attendance were Mr. Gerrit Eissink of the Netherlands; Dr. Paul Viscogliosi of France; and Prof. Yun-hyuk Kim of Korea.

The committee went on smoothly, with members discussing on the ways in which Paralympic poomsae could benefit not only athletes with a disability, but also could be used as a social tool for persons with a disability from all walks of life.

To further assist the committee in its endeavors, the WTF Secretariat recently sent out copies of the WTF Standard Poomsae DVDs to the International Paralympic Committee and its member nations.

On Nov. 7-9, the WTF conducted a Reform Evaluation Committee meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, to review its reform efforts over the past two years; a reform that initiated a renaissance of taekwondo that culminated in the sport retaining its position in the Olympic Programme at the 117th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Singapore on July 8, 2005.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Nat Indrapana, IOC member and vice president of the WTF, who was also the chairman for the Reform Committee that developed a 188-page Reform Report in March 2005.

The Reform Evaluation Committee comprised of Mr. Dai Soon Lee, vice president of the WTF and president of the Asian Taekwondo Union; Mr. Gerrit Eissink, WTF Council member and secretary general of the European Taekwondo Union; Mr. Coleman Lee, WTF Council member and chairman of the WTF Finance Committee; and Mr. Jean-Marie Ayer, a special assistant to the WTF President in marketing.

Over the three days of meeting, the Reform Evaluation Committee focused on reforms to competition and refereeing. The committee also reviewed the progress of reforms to the strategic plan, such as public relations, marketing, and networking; doping control; and promotion of taekwondo. The committee also deliberated on new initiatives, such as Paralympic poomsae for athletes with a disability.

Among the recommendations, the Reform Evaluation Committee proposed the removal of the win by 12-point ceiling. The win by 12-point ceiling was originally proposed by the Reform Committee in its report; nonetheless, the Reform Evaluation Committee felt that the implementation of this rule might bring about an anti-climatic ending to exciting matches. The committee also proposed to scrap time limit in the sudden death round so that the athletes themselves can decide their fate.

In addition, the Reform Evaluation Committee emphasized the need for an anti-doping kit to educate the athletes and coaches, as many of them are unfamiliar with the list of prohibited substances and the proper reporting procedures.

The committee also strongly emphasized the mandatory use of mouthpieces for competing athletes, starting in 2007.

All recommendations by the Reform Evaluation Committee will be forwarded to the WTF Council and General Assembly as soon as possible, in view of the immediacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

 

Taekwondo Song Contest Kicks Off
The World Taekwondo Federation embarked on a worldwide contest to produce a taekwondo anthem and lyrics for a taekwondo song on Nov. 1, 2006.

The contest, the first of its kind in the WTF's 34-year history, continues until Jan. 31, 2007.

The purpose of the contest is to further promote taekwondo around the world by producing a taekwondo anthem (instrumental music only) and a taekwondo song, which will be used during official taekwondo celebrations and events, including Taekwondo Day. The WTF designated Sept. 4 as Taekwondo Day at its General Assembly in July in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Anybody who loves the sport and spirit of taekwondo and possesses the ability to compose music can participate in the three-month contest.

The taekwondo anthem should be no longer than four minutes long and, should be fitting for official taekwondo celebrations and events. The lyrics for the taekwondo song(s) should also be within four minutes, and should capture the essence of taekwondo.

The WTF's screening committee plans to announce the successful applicants for the contest in February.

The prize money for the winning taekwondo anthem entry is U.S.$5,000, while the winner of the taekwondo song lyrics will receive U.S.$3,000. The lyrics should be composed in English and/or Korean.

Once the lyrics are selected, the WTF will start another contest for the taekwondo song, probably in March 2007 for a three-month period.

An applicant is allowed to submit a maximum of two pieces of lyrics and anthem. Applications should be sent either by mail or via hand delivery to the headquarters of the WTF in Seoul. Applications that are mailed to the WTF will be accepted only if they are postmarked within the Jan. 31, 2007, deadline.

Applications include a copy of completed application form, which can be downloaded from the WTF Web site, three copies of music score or lyrics, a CD containing the song in mp3/wav or other playable format, and explanatory note describing the characteristics and contents of the work.

The WTF's PR Division is in charge of the contest. If you have any questions about the contest, please contact Ms. Vanden Berghe at 82-2-566-2505 (ext. 204) or email at pr4wtf@unitel.co.kr.


IOC President Praises Revised WTF Competition Rules

BEIJING, China --- Dr. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, has responded positively to the World Taekwondo Federation's revised competition rules.

The IOC president also stressed the importance of fairness and impartiality in the selection and assignment of taekwondo referees.

According to a report by the Chinese

Taekwondo Association to the WTF concerning Dr. Rogge's visit to Beijing to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Beijing Sport University, Dr. Rogge asked a Chinese taekwondo athlete about her opinion on the amendments to the taekwondo competition rules.

Ms. Chen Zhong, a double Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo, replied that "the amended WTF competition rules have made taekwondo competitions fairer and more impartial."

According to the report, Dr. Rogge nodded approvingly and said, "The purpose of amending the competition rules is to allow taekwondo competitions to be impartial and fairer." "Once the referee selection and referee assignment procedures are also clearly defined and implemented, taekwondo competitions will be even more impartial and fairer."

Ms. Cheng and Ms. Luo Wei, another Chinese Olympic gold medalist in taekwondo, helped the IOC president put on the gown and headgear during the conferment ceremony on Oct. 22, 2006. The two female athletes are graduates of Beijing Sport University.

Asked whether she would participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Ms. Chen said, "I will participate." Dr. Rogge wished her well in her quest for Olympic glory.

During the conferment ceremony, Beijing Sport University President Yang Hua presented Dr. Rogge with the honorary doctorate certificate. Dr. Rogge delivered his acceptance speech, followed by a congratulatory speech by Mr. Liu Peng, minister of the General Administration of Sport of China.

Also present at the ceremony were Mr. Yu Zaiqing, IOC Executive Board member and vice minister in charge of the General Administration of Sport of China; and Mr. He Zhenliang, a member of the IOC from China.

 

WTF Opens Liaison Office in Lausanne , Switzerland on Dec. 1
The WTF opened a liaison office in the Maison du Sport International (MSI) in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland on Dec. 1, 2006.

The opening of a liaison office in the capital of the Olympic Movement is ideal for fostering closer cooperation between

the international sports community and the WTF.

The city of Lausanne is considered the heart of the Olympic Movement, with the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and other international sports federations based there.

Mr. Jean-Marie Ayer will be the WTF attache in Lausanne on a part-time basis. Mr. Ayer serves as a special assistant to Dr. Chungwon Choue, president of the WTF, in marketing.

The following is the contact information of the liaison office in MSI:

Mr. Jean-Marie Ayer, WTF attache in Lausanne
WTF Office in Maison du Sport International (MSI)
Avenue de Rhodanie 54
CH-1007 Lausanne, Switzerland
tel: +41 21 601 50 13
fax: +41 21 601 79 23
e-mail: wtf-lausanne@bluewin.ch

The MSI was officially opened on June 23, 2006, in celebration of the Olympic Day. In attendance at the opening ceremony were several prominent figures of the sporting fraternity, including Dr. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, and Lausanne Mayor Daniel Brelaz.

Other than its proximity with the IOC and the picturesque Lake Leman, the MSI is idyllic for international sports federations to exchange experience and knowledge, as well as save administrative costs by grouping their resources together.

Among the more than 20 tenants of the MSI are the Association of the Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the International Badminton Federation (IBAF), and the International Amateur Boxing Federation (AIBA).

 

History Made in Taekwondo at Doha Asian Games

History has been made in the taekwondo competition at the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

A total of 17 countries won at least one medal out of 64 up for grabs in the four-day taekwondo competition, compared with seven countries at the 2002 Busan Asian Games and eight at the 1998 Bangkok Asiad.

The hike in the number of medal-winning countries reflects the universality of taekwondo.

On the opening day of the four-day taekwondo competitions on Dec. 7, 2006, China clinched its first Asiad gold medal in the sport of taekwondo as Chinese Wu Jingyu defeated Chinese Taipei's Yang Shu Chun 2-1 in the women's 47kg final match.

"All the athletes are at the same level. It's tough and difficult, but I am happy that I won the gold," said Wu after the competition. "I feel very honored and excited for bringing China the first gold in this event."

Jordan's Al Bakhit Mohammad earned his country the first ever Asiad gold medal when he defeated Thailand's Somswang Vasavat 1-0 in the men's 54kg final on Dec. 7.

"I have never imagined I was the one to change the history. It is a great honor for me and I still feel dizzy because of the excitement," Al Bakhit said.

Lee Young-yeoul of Korea won the gold medal in the men's 72kg final on the opening day as he beat Wang Hao of China 7-0. In a semifinal match in the same category, Lee brushed aside a stiff challenge Iran's Hadi Sae Bonehkohal, the gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Iran's Hadi, 30, had to settle for the bronze medal in the division. His younger sister, Sae Bonehkohal Mahroz, also earned her country the bronze medal in the women's 72kg category as the 22-year old Mahroz was beaten 1-2 by Jordan's Kutkut Alaa in a semifinal match.

Korea reaffirmed its supremacy in the sport of taekwondo at the Doha Asiad, as it grabbed nine gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Korea, thus, clinched the overall men's and women's titles for the fifth consecutive Asiad.

Taekwonod was an official sport for the first time at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.

In terms of the overall medal tally, China ranked second with three gold medals, all in the women's categories, one silver and two bronzes. Iran came next with one gold, two silvers and five bronzes.

Chinese Taipei won one gold medal, two silvers and four bronzes, while Qatar won one gold medal and one bronze.

Thailand clinched three silvers and two bronzes, followed by the Philippines and Vietnam with two silvers and three bronzes each. Uzbekistan won one silver.

Kazakhstan and Nepal each won three bronzes, while Afghanistan, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Lebanon and Bahrain grabbed one bronze medal each.


Interview with Uruguayan Ambassador to Korea

Taekwondo gives practitioners a balance in body and mind, which helps relieve stress from daily lives, says the Uruguayan ambassador to Korea.

"Through taekwondo, I attain the balance in my mind and body," said Dr. Nelson Yemil Chaben, the Uruguayan Ambassador to Korea, in a recent interview. "Through taekwondo practice, I learned how to control myself and contain my hot temper."

Mr. Chaben, a third Kukkiwon black-belt holder, said that after taking up taekwondo 25 years ago, he has succeeded to lose 9kg in weight and became "soft and patient."

Uruguay had to close its embassy in Seoul between 2002 and 2005 mainly due to financial strains. "I was in charge of reopening the embassy and reopened the Uruguayan Embassy in February this year."

The envoy said that he would organize a fraternity group of foreign envoys in Korea who love the sport of taekwondo.

"As part of efforts to foster friendship among foreign envoys in Korea, I will try to bring together foreign envoys in Korea who do practice taekwondo or those who are interested in the sport of taekwondo," Mr. Chaben said. "As far as I know, the ambassador of the Dominican Republic practices taekwondo."

He predicted that the fraternity group would serve as a good tool for foreign envoys and their family members in Korea to learn more about taekwondo and the Korean culture.

"My nine-year-old daughter, Erika, started practicing taekwondo three months ago," said Mr. Chaben, who played a key role in establishing the Uruguay Taekwondo Federation in 1982.

The envoy, who worked as the first secretary general of the Uruguay Taekwondo Federation, now serves as the president of the federation's Fiscal Committee. "I, as a lawyer, Master Byung-sup Lee and three to four others wrote the rules and regulations of the federation."

He estimated that the number of taekwondo practitioners in Uruguay at 10,000. "We have about 100 taekwondo clubs in Uruguay and the number of students are growing quickly."

"Ten years ago, karata was more important than taekwondo in my country, but now all changed and the popularity of taekwondo is growing high," the career diplomat said.

The ambassador said that he would attend as many taekwondo events as possible, including the next World Taekwondo Championships scheduled for May 18-22, 2007 in Beijing, China. "Our national team will participate in the Beijing World Championships."

 

Taekwondo Is Sport for Everyone : Interview with WTF President

By Moon Gwang-lip
Staff Reporter
The Korea Times

The international image of taekwondo, a new Olympic sport rooted in Korea's traditional martial arts, was sullied after its introduction at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games by the conviction of the sport's chief representative for corruption. The future of taekwondo as an Olympic event was put in doubt.

Kim Un-yong, who headed the World Taekwondo Federation from 1973 to 2004, was an Olympic committee vice president and a representative in the National Assembly in Korea. He was brought down in disgrace and arrested in January 2004 on suspicion of embezzling 3.84 billion won ($4 million) from the organization. Prosecutors also said he took 810 million won from sporting goods suppliers in an influence peddling deal.

He lost his positions and was imprisoned.

Today the federation has a new leader, brought in to save the sport from toppling from its Olympic position.

Choue Chung-won, the son of the founder of Kyunghee University, was picked in 2004 to salvage the mess Kim made.

``As soon as I became the president of the WTF in June 2004, I told reporters the Chinese saying, `When you drink water in the well, you should be thankful for the one who dug the well,''' Choue said.

``Kim Un-yong introduced taekwondo as an international sport to the IOC and to the world. So I am very grateful for what he did for taekwondo. But from now on things will be different. The past is past. Transparency is more important now. For the future, as taekwondo is an Olympic sport, we should improve the WTF in line with global standards.''

Choue, elected last year for another four-year term, is now at the forefront of efforts to see that sports in Korea are transparent and fair.

At the end of last month, Choue, 59, was nominated to become the first president of the Korea Fair Play Committee, a member of the International Committee for Fair Play (ICFP). The ICEF, based in Paris, promotes fair play with all kinds of national and international sports organizations.

But it is his drive to see taekwondo _ a sport that he defines as ``Korea's gift to the world'' _ that consumes his daily efforts. Beyond the tainted former leadership, competitors have criticized the sport for a lack of adequate and fair judging methods.

``Fair play is a really important thing,'' Choue said in a recent interview with The Korea Times at his office in southern Seoul. ``I think it is the most important part of the sports.''

Athletes are eager for medals for their nations, he said, but without fair play, it's meaningless. "So what I am going to do as the (KFPC) president is to spread the fair play spirit to the sport. I am confident. Beginning next year, we are going to search for the real fair play sportsmen in Korea not only for taekwondo, but also for other sports.''

Apparently, the reaction against his predecessor was the chief reason Choue assumed the role of guardian of fair play.

``In taekwondo, there were many problems. In taekwondo, one person dominated the sport, and the Koreans were the dominant group in the sport,'' Choue said.

A few months after Choue took the helm, the federation launched a reform committee, led by a WTF vice president and IOC member Nat Indrapana of Thailand. A thorough review was undertaken to see that the rules ensured clean competition.

In a bid to improve the credibility of the judging system, the federation increased the number of judges from three to four last year. Last month, it opened the way for electronic sensors to help the judges. ``It's not just where you hit someone, it's how hard you hit him,'' explained Choue. The electronic protectors, which the federation says will help reduce refereeing disputes, are expected to debut in the World Taekowndo Championships in May 2007 in Beijing, China, at the earliest.

Early next month, the federation will hold the first meeting of its Reform Evaluation Committee in Bangkok, to check the progress of the programs.

Choue says he has thrown himself into the reform effort, expecting it to help taekwondo remain an Olympic sport indefinitely.

Taekwondo, approved for inclusion in the 2012 London Olympics, will make its fifth straight appearance at the Olympics if the 2009 IOC Congress in Copenhagen gives it the go-ahead for the 2016 Games.

``We should complete our reforms. Then I think taekwondo will be safe,'' Choue said.

Choue has had a long history with taekwondo. Before taking on his new job, Choue contributed to the martial art by establishing the Department of Taekwondo at Kyung Hee University in 1983 as a chief planning and management official. This was the first time a Korean university installed the sport as a major. He also played a role in establishing the International Taekwondo Academy in 1995 and the International Taekwondo Research Institute in 2002, while serving as an executive council member of the Korea Taekwondo Association. Choue served as president of Kyung Hee University from 1997 to 2003.

He said taekwondo, which now has over 60 million practitioners from 182 nations, is quickly expanding its horizons.

Choue crisscrosses the world to promote the sport. At the time of the interview, he had just returned from Macao, where he watched 12 Portuguese-speaking countries compete in taekwondo, and he was just about to leave for Africa for another taekwondo competition.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, he was going to see the inauguration of the South African Taekwondo Championship. Around 15 countries joined the competition.

The soft-spoken president showed pride when he said taekwondo is recognized in many countries as the second-most popular sport after football.

``I heard that many African countries are really fond of taekwondo. Taekwondo has become the second sport after football. This is really amazing and surprising,'' he said, adding that the same phenomenon is evident in the Middle East and Latin America.

``There are so many small islands in East African countries, and they are practicing taekwondo, and they are doing very well.''

Choue said he remains positive that taekwondo will have 100 million practitioners soon. He expects 10 more countries to join the WTF by next May, when the WTF general assembly will be held in Beijing. His optimism, sounding like a self-fulfilling mantra, is justified given the burgeoning popularity of the sport in countries like Iran, which has 1.5 million practitioners, and even China, a country renowned for other well-known martial arts.

``China has 1.7 million taekwondo practitioners. They have kungfu, wushu and many other martial arts sports. But taekwondo appeals to them because it is an Olympic sport,'' Choue said.

He said, however, that enthusiasm for the sport does not result only from its status as an Olympic sport. Though taekwondo is a martial art, it also teaches athletes about Asian philosophy, such as respect for the elderly and living in harmony, he said.

A recent visit to China convinced Choue of the educational benefits of the sport.

``A Beijing University professor said he is sending his children to a taekwondo Dojang (gym). I asked why he does even though they have other popular martial arts. He said after practicing taekwondo, his children really changed. They became more respectful and more enthusiastic about studies,'' Choue said.

To enhance taekwondo's global appeal, Choue launched an annual competition, or ``poomsae,'' a demonstration of a set of movements comprising basic taekwondo techniques. The WTF hosted the first World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships early last month in Seoul. The event attracted 590 athletes and officials from 59 countries.

``Taekwondo has three aspects: an Olympic sport, a traditional martial art and poomsae. Everybody can enjoy poomsae, and that will help taekwondo become a more global sport,'' he said.

The hard-driving president has another plan in mind: introducing taekwondo, specifically the poomsae discipline, to the Paralympic Games.

From Nov. 3 to 4, the WTF Paralympic Committee will hold its inaugural meeting and discuss ways to implement the plan.

``Taekwondo is, as you know, a combat sport. But when it comes to poomsae, it's possible for the disabled to practice and enjoy it,'' he said.

``I believe that the discipline of poomsae will someday be an important sport of the International Paralympic Committee and then taekwondo will become a sport for everyone.''