Demonstration performances put finishing touch to taekwondo worlds

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jul 3, 2017 - 09:25
  • Updated : Jul 3, 2017 - 09:25

MUJU -- Demonstration performances by teams from the two Koreas put the finishing touch on the taekwondo world championships here Friday.

Teams from the World Taekwondo Federation and the International Taekwondo Federation helped draw the curtain on the 23rd WTF World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

The ITF's team also performed here in the opening ceremony last Saturday, the first time an ITF demo team performed at a WTF event held in South Korea.

After appearing in two shows in other South Korean cities during the week, the ITF's team returned to Muju for one final performance.

And the performers were back breaking pine boards and bricks, putting on an intense and fierce display.

The WTF's performers, much as they did in the opening ceremony, presented a glitzy performance with elements of dance music and lights incorporated.

Members of taekwondo demonstration teams from South Korea-based World Taekwondo Federation (L) and from the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation shake hands during the closing ceremony of the WTF World Taekwondo Championships at T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on June 30, 2017. (Yonhap)
Host South Korea led all countries with 10 medals, including five gold medals. The next world championships will take place in Manchester, Britain, in 2019.

This was the largest championship in history, with 971 athletes from 183 nations in action.

The WTF, headquartered in Seoul, is led by South Korean Choue Chung-won, and is the official international federation for taekwondo. The ITF, whose president is North Korean Ri Yong-son, is based in Vienna.

They each operate under different rules, but the two have made efforts to cooperate with each other.

Most notably, they signed a landmark agreement in August 2014, titled "Protocol of Accord," which outlined areas of mutual cooperation. Based on that agreement, the ITF sent its delegation here to honor the agreement.

The WTF will send its own demonstration team to Pyongyang in a reciprocal visit in September, when the ITF hosts its own world championships.
Taekwondo demonstration performers pose for pictures with luminaries such as Thomas Bach (third row, second from R), president of the International Olympic Committee, and Choue Chung-won (to right of Bach), head of the World Taekwondo Federation, during the closing ceremony of the WTF World Taekwondo Championships at T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on June 30, 2017. (Yonhap)
During the closing ceremony, South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan applauded the ITF delegation for making the trip "despite the political situation" on the divided peninsula.

"I'd like to rate the 2017 world championships to be the event that realized the ideal of the Olympic Games, the promotion of peace through sport," Do said. "I wish that the ITF demonstration team's visiting Korea will pave the way to revitalize sports exchange between South and North Korea and to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula."

In his congratulatory speech, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, praised Choue's leadership and hard work.

"Through your tireless dedication and commitment, you ensure that taekwondo is more than a sport," Bach said. "Your hard work promotes the values of sport in society, showing us all that sport has the power to change the world." (Yonhap)