Long known for its upscale Deogyusan ski resort, the mountainous and remote countryside of Muju-gun, North Jeolla Province, has now become the new go-to destination for all things taekwondo.
About a 2 1/2-hour drive from Seoul stands the Taekwondowon, the world’s largest taekwondo training space. Situated at the foot of Mount Baekunsan, the vast area spans across 2.3 square kilometers and nine valleys and equates to approximately three-quarters of the land mass of New York City’s Central Park. Taekwondowon includes a large taekwondo stadium, an exhibition hall, a virtual experience center, a taekwondo museum and hotel-quality accommodations on the premises.
With the art of taekwondo being practiced by more than 70 million people in 188 countries, the Taekwondowon is intended to provide world-class training and exhibition opportunities for everyone from the skilled grandmasters down to the martial arts novices.
Taekwondo players practice on the Taekwondowon grounds in Muju, North Jeolla Province. (Courtesy of Taekwondowon)
Managed by Kukkiwon World Taekwondo Headquarters, the World Taekwondo Academy conducts a wide range of daily on-site programs at the Taekwondowon, dedicated to the research and teaching of taekwondo.
The “Taekwondo Professional Course for Education” is one of the offered programs and is a curriculum designed for taekwondo practitioners around the world to understand the spirit, philosophy, history and techniques of the Korean martial art, as well as strengthen students’ competencies in both the study and practice of the sport. The center also offers courses for those looking to boost their competitive edge, with programs developed to improve one’s technical performance and knowledge of competitive strategies.
Among the many activities offered in the state-of-the-art facilities is the opportunity for students to improve their taekwondo know-how through virtual means. In an attempt to inspire young minds in an interactive modern fashion, the “Experience Center Yap!” has been equipped with a 3-D theater, strap-in wire machines that help students perfect their form and even screens that allow participants to have a taste of competition fighting through a motion-censored virtual sparring game.
Aside from all of the Taekwondowon’s practical structural facilities, the taekwondo grounds were also designed with the spiritual and cultural aspects of the Korean martial art in mind. Located further north of the main campus facilities is the “Spirit Zone.” Here, visitors can find complete serenity through the expansive gardens complete with man-made waterfalls and streams, the bamboo forest, scattered traditional Korean pavilions and the observation tower. This zone has not merely been designed as a must-see-designation to attract locals and tourists, but also as means to convey the fundamental philosophies of taekwondo through its roots in the spirit of nature.
Taekwondowon visitors also have the opportunity to witness one of the picturesque, panoramic view of Muju-gun and its vast mountain range by taking the sky-tram up to the observatory. Along an indoor cafe enclosed where patrons and sip their coffee in front of stunning mountainside views, the rooftop of the observation tower gives visitors an outdoor experience with its 360-degree view of Mount Baekunsan.
For more information on the Taekwondowon, visit www.tkdwon.kr/kr.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)