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(LEAD) Two int'l taekwondo bodies agree to create joint organization for integration

All Headlines 14:02 November 02, 2018

(ATTN: ADDS comments in paras 6,8)

PYONGYANG, Nov. 2 (Yonhap) -- Two international taekwondo bodies on Friday agreed to establish a joint organization for their integration after holding talks in Pyongyang.

World Taekwondo (WT), led by South Korean Choue Chung-won, and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), headed by North Korean Ri Yong-son, signed an agreement at the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang that calls for forming a joint organization to integrate taekwondo.

The 49-member WT delegation, including the all-South Korean taekwondo demonstration team, has been staying in the North Korean capital since Tuesday after an invitation from the ITF.

This photo provided by World Taekwondo (WT) shows WT President Choue Chung-won (L) shaking hands with International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) President Ri Yong-son after signing an agreement at the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang on Nov. 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

The two sides added that the name of the joint organization and its goals will be confirmed later following their meeting in December.

Like the divided Koreas, taekwondo shares the same roots but is now separated by the WT and ITF styles of taekwondo. The WT, headquartered in Seoul, is currently the official international taekwondo governing body as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The ITF has a different set of rules than the WT.

"There's one taekwondo, and we're one people, so things can't go wrong," Ri said to Choue during the meeting. "We'll do our best to make this agreement be fully carried out after signing."

To facilitate their integration efforts, the two taekwondo bodies also decided to have joint activities in various international events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Choue said the two sides plan to have joint taekwondo demonstration performances in cities like Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC headquarters is located, as well as Paris, the host city for the 2024 Olympics, and Rome.

"I've had a thought that taekwondo should play a bigger role," he said. "Taekwondo was designated as an Olympic sport at the IOC session in Paris in 1994 and next year marks the 25th anniversary of that, so I was thinking about having joint performances to commemorate that moment."

The WT and the ITF also agreed to have a training center where taekwondo practitioners from the two sides can work together, which potentially aims to have a single taekwondo demonstration team. The issue will be further discussed at the soon-to-be-named joint organization.

The WT and the ITF said they will also co-host international competitions and accept each other's dan grades and judges' licenses, so that their taekwondo fighters can compete at either side's events.

In addition, the two taekwondo bodies will cooperate in listing taekwondo as a UNESCO intangible cultural asset.

This photo provided by World Taekwondo (WT) shows WT President Choue Chung-won (2nd from L) signing an agreement with International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) President Ri Yong-son at the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang on Nov. 2, 2018. (Yonhap)

To implement the agreement, the two sides promised to hold working-level talks at least once a month, while Choue and Ri also vowed to meet frequently to discuss issues for the development of taekwondo.

The latest agreement is in line with a landmark pact titled Protocol of Accord, which was signed between the WT and the ITF in August 2014 in the presence of the IOC. Then, the two sides agreed for mutual cooperation and exchange, including helping ITF taekwondo athletes compete at the Olympics.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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