This Saturday the 3rd of September, a portrait of the late General Choi Hong Hi will be unveiled at a ceremony to recognize the “Greats in Taekwondo History” at the Taekwondowon in Muju. Finally it would appear that the effort and position of the founder of Taekwon-Do who designed the Art and put Taekwon-Do onto the World map has been recognized by South Koreans. However, one must ask the question whether it is a real success or a half-hearted acknowledgment?
Today a delegation from ITF HQ Korea that included President Master Oh Chang Jin, Secretary General Dr Zibby Kruk and the online reporter for Moosin magazine traveled to Muju to review the preparation for the ceremony and the recognition being given to General Choi. They conferred with Taekwondowon Secretary General Prof. Jung Heon Kim and discussed the preparation for the event.
It has been a long process in achieving the nomination of General Choi Hong Hi for a position in the “Greats in Taekwondo History” taking 3 meetings of the Nomination Committee to come to the final decision. The ceremony will be held on “Taekwondo Day” which is the anniversary of the decision to accept Taekwondo as an official sport in Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The actual celebration will be a quiet affair that has not been promoted widely and is only for members of the families of the nominees and invited guests. Later that evening there will be a demonstration of Taekwondo and will also include some cultural performances and a celebratory meal of Korean cuisine in the presence of members of the Ministry of Korean Culture, Sport and Tourism.
When the ITF HQ Korea delegation were presented to the portrait of General Choi they were distressed to see that there was no distinction between the founder, General Choi, and other contributors to the development of the Art, some of whom were his students. Not only was this a feature but also the description under his portrait merely stated the following:
• “Named Taekwondo in 1955
• Founded O Do Kwan and contributed to the vitalization of Taekwondo in the Korean military
• Worked as the president of the Korea Taesudo Association (current KTA) and established the International Taekwondo Federation, thereby contributing to the spread of Taekwondo around the world”
The President Oh Chang Jin said that the International Taekwon-Do Federation of Korea HQ feels embarrassed that the former I.T.F. President, General Choi Hong Hi, has only been attributed as the person who named Taekwon-Do but is not recognized as its founder. President Oh also emphasized that about 40 million members of the ITF all over the world will be disappointed with this minimal recognition. They have been following General Choi faithfully without doubt that he is the founder of Taekwon-Do. Master Oh stated that there is a vast amount of evidence showing that General Chi Hong Hi not only proposed the name of Taekwon-Do but he designed the 24 patterns which symbolize the philosophical 24 hours of human life. He also published the first encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do where all techniques and philosophy were presented and tirelessly promoted the art of Taekwon-Do throughout his life as well as Korean culture, history and made Korea synonymous with the word Taekwon-Do.
It is very sad then, that despite General Choi being recognized outside of his homeland as a great man and the founder of Taekwon-Do, neither of the Koreas have treated him with the respect he deserves. Indeed on his headstone in North Korea where only his style of Taekwon-Do is practiced he was only proclaimed as the president and not the founder.
Given this half-hearted recognition one may question the merit of this acknowledgment and indeed it may have been better had General Choi Hong Hi not be introduced at all rather than announcing him as the founder of O Do Kwan or the person who only named Taekwon-Do.
ITF HQ Korea will make representations to the South Korean Government to clarify the fact that the former President Choi Hong Hi is not being recognized as the founder of Taekwon-Do and is going to appeal to the Government through our membership.
Additionally, ITF HQ Korea already is advanced in a scheme to build a World Taekwon-Do Center that was prepared in 2005, and will open it to many international visitors and members for competitions, seminars, and international events. In this Center General Choi will be rightly recognized as the Founder of Taekwon-Do.