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(LEAD) Maryland declares 'Taekwondo Day'

All Headlines 11:35 April 06, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with quotes)

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, April 5 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. state of Maryland declared April 5 as "Taekwondo Day" in an effort to promote the Korean martial art, the latest in a series of events underlining the affection Gov. Larry Hogan and his Korean-American wife have for Korea.

Hogan, who calls himself a "hanguk sawi," which means a "son-in-law of South Korea," announced the designation in a celebratory ceremony at the Maryland Miller Senate Office Building that also included a taekwondo demonstration and traditional Korean percussion and dance performances.

"A hundred million people across the world are proud members of the taekwondo family. This martial art form is recognized not only as an important part of Korea's cultural legacy, but for its positive values promoting physical and mental health, and discipline," Hogan said.

"In Korea, April 5th is Arbor Day, celebrating growth and new beginnings. So, taekwondo here in Maryland is now also on April 5th to represent the growing and thriving Korean-American community in our state and the growing, thriving relationship between Korea and the state of Maryland," he said.

Hogan, who received an honorary ninth-dan black belt from South Korea's taekwondo governing body, Kukkiwon, when he visited the country last year, also demonstrated breaking wooden boards with a taekwondo punch during the ceremony.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was Grand Master Jhoon Goo Rhee, also known as the "Father of American Taekwondo" for introducing taekwondo to the U.S. His son, Jimmy H. Rhee, is currently serving as special secretary of minority affairs for the government of Maryland.

Hogan awarded a citation to the master in recognition to his contribution to society through taekwondo.

Officials said that Hogan's wife, first lady Yumi Hogan, has assumed the role of an honorary president of this year's competition of the annual taekwondo tournament sponsored by South Korea's ambassador to the U.S.

The Taekwondo Day designation is the latest in a series of events the governor and his wife have held to show their bond with Korea. In January, Maryland also declared Jan. 13 as "Korean American Day" in recognition of contributions the Korean community has made to the state and the country.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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