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Promoting taekwondo to the world

Taekwondo Park to be built by 2013, to serve as martial arts hub


MUJU, North Jeolla Province ― Taekwondo, Korea’s traditional martial art and one of the official Olympic disciplines, is now a global sport practiced by more than 70 million people from over 200 countries, but greater efforts are needed to further its development, according to the head of the sport’s promotional body.

“We need to develop more programs, more facilities to take taekwondo from being just an Olympic sport,” said Lee Dai-soon, the chairman of the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation.
Chairman of the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation Lee Dai-soon. (TPF)
Chairman of the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation Lee Dai-soon. (TPF)

Lee said the first step has already been taken in Muju, North Jeolla Province, where a large-scale taekwondo theme park is under construction.

With supports from the Seoul government and North Jeolla Province, the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation started last year building the taekwondo theme park on a total area of around 2 million square meters with $558 million investment.

The park will consist of three main parts ― spirit, mind and body ― in keeping with the concept of Korean traditional martial arts, according to Lee.

In the spirit zone, facilities such as a memorial park and an exhibition hall will be built to help promote the sport. And in the body zone, to be located in the center of the park, a training center, a 5,000-seat competition venue and also an athlete’s village that can accommodate up to 1,400 people will be built, according to the TPF.

One of the most important parts of the park, Lee said, is the mind zone, where a taekwondo research center and the World Taekwondo Academy will be housed.

“We need to create more leaders in taekwondo. We’re planning to build the park as a center of education for taekwondo,” Lee said.

In an effort to develop more education programs, the TPF signed Thursday a memorandum of understanding with Sulchon high school, pledging to help set up a taekwondo course at the school in Muju.

“We’re also planning to open an international taekwondo school at the park when it is opens in 2013,” Lee added.

In another effort to promote taekwondo, the TPF hosted its third taekwondo youth camp from Aug. 1-5 in Muju.

More than 250 young athletes from 27 countries took part in the annual event, sponsored by the World Taekwondo Federation and the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism.

During the five-day event participants were given taekwondo lessons as well as various cultural activities, including a visit to Jeonju Hanok village.

Speaking at the observation deck on the top of Baekun Mountain, looking down at the construction site, Lee said he believes the Taekwondo Park will not only help promote the sport but also Korean culture.

“Buildings will be built in traditional styles and even a small sculpture in the park will represent the image of Korea,” Lee said.

According to TPF, more than 30 percent of the construction of the park will be completed this year, and is expected to open its door in mid 2013. “When it is completed, we will be able to provide athletes with a unique experience in the sport’s Mecca,” Lee added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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