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N. Korean official says 2 taekwondo bodies should integrate

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jun 28, 2017 - 10:52
  • Updated : Jun 28, 2017 - 10:55

Two international organizations for the Korean martial art of taekwondo should integrate in honor of their common root, the North Korean leader for one of the bodies said Tuesday.

Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation, is visiting South Korea for a series of ITF demonstration team's performances across the country. It performed during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo Federation World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, last Saturday. The team traveled to Jeonju, a neighboring town of Muju, for a show on Monday, and will perform in Seoul on Wednesday.

The WTF, with South Korean Choue Chung-won at the helm, is headquartered in Seoul and is the official international taekwondo governing body, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The ITF is based in Vienna and has different sets of rules than the WTF.

Ri Yong-son, the North Korean head of the International Taekwondo Federation, speaks to reporters while seated next to Kim Un-yong, former South Korean vice president of the International Olympic Committee, before a dinner reception at a Seoul hotel on June 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

The two organizations have moved closer to each other in recent years. They signed a "Protocol of Accord" in August 2014, a landmark agreement that deals with the exchange of demonstration teams, among other matters of cooperation.

At a dinner reception in Seoul Tuesday, Ri acknowledged that there have been talks on bringing the WTF and the ITF together.

"That's why I am here," Ri told reporters. "Taekwondo is one, and (the ITF and the WTF) should become one quickly. The door is now open, and all we have to do is walk through it."

Last Saturday, prior to the WTF championships' opening ceremony, Choue said the two sides had never before broached the possibility of integration.

Choue pointed to a clause in Protocol of Accord, which states the two organizations must mutually respect each other. (Yonhap)