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World taekwondo chief hopeful of further exchanges with N. Korea

All News 16:29 June 24, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

MUJU, South Korea, June 24 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean leader of global taekwondo said Saturday he was hopeful the two Koreas would continue to engage in exchange programs following their historic meeting here.

Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), has welcomed a delegation from the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) to the WTF World Taekwondo Championships. A demonstration team from the ITF, made up of 12 North Koreans, will have a performance during the competition's opening ceremony at T1 Arena inside Taekwondowon in Muju, some 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

This is the ITF's first visit to South Korea in 10 years, and also the ITF's first such performance at a WTF event held south of the inter-Korean border.

The WTF is headquartered in Seoul and is the official international taekwondo governing body, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ITF, with North Korean Ri Yong-son at the helm, is based in Vienna but has different sets of rules than the WTF.

The two organizations signed a "Protocol of Accord" in August 2014, a landmark agreement that deals with the exchange of demonstration teams, among other matters of cooperation.

Choue Chung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), speaks at a press conference ahead of the WTF World Taekwondo Championships' opening ceremony at T1 Arena inside Taekwondowon in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on June 24, 2017. (Yonhap)

During the ITF's stay here, Choue is expected to meet with ITF leaders to discuss the WTF's reciprocal visit to Pyongyang in September, when the ITF holds its own world championships.

"The ITF officials have said they are here to honor our agreement," Choue said at a press conference before the opening ceremony. "It states that (our demonstration teams) should pay each other visits. And I told the ITF that it's important to honor that, and they said they're going to do their best to make it happen."

The agreement states, "WTF and ITF will form respectively their own taekwondo demonstration teams consisting of multinational practitioners and make the active promotion of taekwondo through the world with their international tours all over the world, including the southern and northern parts of Korea, the motherland of taekwondo, according to the timing and maturity of the circumstances."

Choue said while the two organizations have discussed cooperation, they've never broached the possibility of merging or integrating the two bodies.

"Protocol of Accord makes it clear that we must mutually respect each other's organizations," Choue added.

Choue said the WTF will create a new professional taekwondo tournament and open the doors for practitioners from all backgrounds to participate in it, "as long as they follow our competition rules."


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