NK official says 2 taekwondo bodies should host joint competition under unified rules

By Yonhap
  • Published : Feb 11, 2018 - 17:41
  • Updated : Feb 11, 2018 - 17:41
Two international organizations for the Korean martial art of taekwondo should co-host competitions under one set of rules, the leader of the North Korean body said Sunday.

Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation, made the proposal during his meeting with World Taekwondo President Choue Chung-won at the WT's headquarters in Seoul, local officials confirmed.

Ri is visiting South Korea for a series of performances to be given jointly by ITF and WT taekwondo practitioners during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games south of the border. It has already performed twice here -- once during the opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Games in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul, on Friday and once in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, on Saturday. The North Koreans are slated to give two more performances in Seoul before they return home Thursday.

World Taekwondo President Choue Chung-won (R) speaks with Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation, at his office in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

The WT is the official international taekwondo governing body, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The ITF is based in Vienna and has a different set of rules from the WT.

The two organizations, however, have moved closer to each other in recent years. They signed a "Protocol of Accord" in August 2014, a landmark agreement dealing with the exchange of demonstration teams and other matters of cooperation. The protocol is considered a move toward the integration of the two bodies.

According to officials, Ri gave a letter of proposal to Choue asking the WT to reaffirm the 2014 agreement and to look for ways to build the ITF's status at the Olympics. The two sides previously discussed similar issues when Ri visited South Korea for the WT World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, in June.

The Olympic taekwondo competitions are played under the rules set by the WT. North Korea's ITF taekwondo practitioners can take part in the Olympics, but they must follow WT rules.

"The purpose of my visit to South Korea is to discuss the integration of taekwondo," Ri said. "When you see each other often, you create common things."

Choue said the WT seeks to deliver good news within a few days regarding Ri's proposal.

"We still have time to talk with the ITF before two other joint taekwondo demonstration performances take place this week," said Choue, hinting that the answer could come as quickly as this week.

Choue said he proposed to the ITF that the two sides should have joint performance at WT's Taekwondo Grand Prix event in Rome in June following a request from Vatican representatives. Ri, however, didn't give a clear answer to Choue's proposal, saying that the two organizations should have further discussions on their joint performance in Rome.(Yonhap)