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Title Korea´s Taekwondo Is Fascinating Laos
No 48 Inquiry 735 Date 2017.08.01

Recently, Korean taekwondo masters dispatched by the Korean Taekwondo Peace Corps have toured taekwondo studios around Laos to offer lessons to the local practitioners. They are all level 3 or 4 certificate(called dan) holders and have devotedly worked to promote Korean taekwondo in Laos for about 40 days from July.


Laos and the Republic of Korea did not have any exchanges for about 20 years from 1975 when they broke off diplomatic ties until they resumed their relations in 1995. During that period, Laos, fortunately or unfortunately, maintained a close relationship with North Korea. Thus, taekwondo continued to spread to the Laotian governmental agencies such as the military and police and has been steadily trained. Recently, however, the number of those who practice the taekwondo of the Republic of Korea is growing rapidly in Laos. As of 2017, there are about 30 taekwondo studios and about 700 practitioners throughout Laos, and most of them are learning taekwondo techniques of the World Taekwondo (WT).


Here, a little understanding of the WT and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) is required. Although taekwondo is traditional martial arts of the Korean people, the two federations have achieved their respective growth in South Korea and North Korea. The WT was founded in South Korea in May 1973 and currently has 197 country members. The ITF has independently developed for about 40 years in North Korea. Both groups show great differences in the aspects of techniques and terms related to taekwondo. While the WT's taekwondo has developed as a sport, being chosen as one of the official Olympics sports, the taekwondo of North Korea's ITF still has a strong character of martial arts. The WT and ITF adopted and signed a protocol that promised mutual recognition and respect, and the establishment of a multinational demonstration team at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in China.


The third Korean Ambassador's Cup Taekwondo Competition held in Laos


On November 26 and 27, 2016, the third Korean Ambassador's Cup Taekwondo Competition was held at the Lao National Convention Center. The NCC is where ASEAN + 3 Summit 2016 was held. The competition gathered 24 teams and 513 participants from all over Laos, who displayed their outstanding techniques that they had built up so far. The competition invited the taekwondo demonstration team from Korea's Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) and it performed a wonderful taekwondo demonstration. The Kukkiwon demonstration team also presented the Taekwondo Gala Show as part of the Korea-Laos VIPs’ Post-Tour Cultural Exchanges and promoted the beauty of taekwondo and the essence of the techniques among the Laotian government officials and ambassadors from each country.


On this day, the officials of the Laotian government spared no praise and promised to make greater efforts to promote taekwondo exchanges between the two countries, making the competition more meaningful. The year's competition was held at the largest scale of the taekwondo events ever held in Laos. The fourth competition to be held this year has already attracted attention from many Laotian taekwondo people.


Performance of Kukkiwon’s taekwondo demonstration team


Laotian taekwondo athletes have never won medals in international competitions such as Asian Games or the Olympics. However, they have achieved several medals at the SEA (South East Asia) Games, a Southeast Asian sport event. The SEA Games, where 11 countries in Southeast Asia compete in 22 sports every two years, will be held in Malaysia from August 19 to 30 this year. Taekwondo athletes in Laos are working harder than ever to obtain good results in this competition. I hope that the activities of the World Taekwondo Peace Corps will help foster Laotian taekwondo athletes with better skills.


* Cho Min-jeong, Correspondent in Laos