EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW FOR MUNDOTAEKWONDO.COM
Mundotaekwondo.com had access to the offices of Kukkiwon in Korea to have a wide and sincere approach with the president of this institution GM. Dong Sup Lee, who kindly spoke about several important aspects for the world Taekwondo.
Recall that Kukkiwon was established with the aim of inheriting and improving the spirit and technique of taekwondo, promoting the popularization of the culture and value of the sport, raising the global status and contributing to world peace.
In line with this goal, Kukkiwon has been striving for the popularization and development of taekwondo in the development of its activities. However, the current president himself has acknowledged “that we were insufficient to promote Kukkiwon itself as a brand.”
MT. What does Kukkiwon mean to South Korea?
Taekwondo is a national sport of the Republic of Korea. It is our representative martial art. As the world headquarters of taekwondo, Kukkiwon leads the development of taekwondo, a national sport, and serves as a center for the global taekwondo community. Taekwondo is one of the most popular sports for Koreans. In addition, everyone recognizes that taekwondo is a sport that proudly represents their home country and that Kukkiwon is fundamental to the sport.
MT: What is the basis of Kukkiwon’s work for the world?
Kukkiwon plays a key role in establishing the awareness that Taekwondo originates from the Republic of Korea. From Poom/Dan promotion tests, the foundation of Taekwondo, to instructor training and various research projects, all of Kukkiwon’s activities emphasize maintaining and developing the core values of Taekwondo.
MT. Since your arrival as president, what has changed at Kukkiwon?
It has been 10 months since I took office on January 29. So far, I have had a very busy schedule and Kukkiwon has gone through a transformation process. We organized the ‘Kukkiwon 2nd Establishment System Restructuring TF’, a temporary organization to take charge of establishing a strategy for future growth and make a suggestion of Kukkiwon’s vision. In addition, the TF has established detailed measures and readjusted internal regulations to raise the overall status.
MT. Could you elaborate on the activities?
On May 1, we held the “Kukkiwon Innovation Declaration Ceremony” and presented three major strategies and six key tasks. The ceremony was an opportunity to show our strong will to lay the foundation for the next 50 years as an independent institution with strong viability. In particular, all Kukkiwon executives and employees set a common goal: to be reborn to live up to the name of World Taekwondo Headquarters, and are making continuous efforts to achieve that goal.
MT: What is your vision for Kukkiwon?
Although we have only taken the first step, I believe that if all executives and employees unite with one heart, we will be able to develop and establish an image of the World Taekwondo Headquarters, which is the original form of Kukkiwon.
Internally, Kukkiwon is transforming into a harmonious and hardworking organization, and externally, we are leaping into the world.
MT. What are your goals?
As president of Kukkiwon, my goal is to establish a working system that can bring consistency and efficiency. To this end, Kukkiwon is transforming itself into an active and lively organization in which all employees work dynamically.
In this way, Kukkiwon can push forward policies and programs that do not go against the expectations of the global taekwondo family, and I believe that organizational innovation directly affects the future of Kukkiwon.
MT. How would you rate your team?
Our teams at Kukkiwon have fought tooth and nail to help the global taekwondo family overcome the hard times caused by the new coronavirus infection disease (COVID-19).
We communicate harmoniously with each other and fulfill their duties and responsibilities to the fullest. We not only have competencies, but also strive to promote development by improving ourselves first.
We promise that all our executives and employees will continue to work as one team and make the utmost effort to raise the status of Kukkiwon, the world taekwondo headquarters, thanks to the expectations and support of the world taekwondo family.
MT. How many countries belong to Kukkiwon?
Since its establishment on November 30, 1972, Kukkiwon has made every effort to promote taekwondo around the world. These efforts have paid off. At present, practitioners from as many as 202 countries obtained Poom/Dan certificates through the tests, which is worthy of the status and recognition as the World Taekwondo Headquarters.
MT. Many people in the world believe that Kukkiwon has not fully opened up to the world. What do you think can be improved in the future?
Kukkiwon was established with the aim of inheriting and improving the spirit and technique of taekwondo, promoting the popularization of the culture and value of the sport, raising the global status and contributing to world peace. In line with this goal, Kukkiwon has been striving for the popularization and development of taekwondo in the development of its activities. However, we recognized that we were insufficient to promote Kukkiwon itself as a brand.
We planned to expand the activities of the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Demonstration Team, whose demonstration performance is the best in the world. Every year, the team travels to about 30 countries to promote original taekwondo performances. To promote online and reach out to the global community, Kukkiwon’s website will be revamped to offer services in more languages in addition to the current Korean, English and Chinese, and utilize social media.
MT. There are very poor countries in the world, has Kukkiwon thought of having a plan to serve those nations that perhaps some practitioners don’t have the money to accredit certificates or attend activities.
Anyone, regardless of nationality, race, religion, sex or age, can enjoy and practice Taekwondo. However, some people cannot afford to practice Taekwondo because of their financial difficulties. And I am sorry for those cases.
Indeed, there are limitations in providing support to all people in need. Therefore, Kukkiwon is operating a program of sending Taekwondo Masters to about 50 countries that need to popularize Taekwondo strategically, especially to developing countries. The dispatched Taekwondo Masters work with the local government and Taekwondo association to teach Taekwondo and help practitioners overcome their difficulties.
This year, Kukkiwon has increased the number of countries sent to 70 countries. At the same time, Kukkiwon will send WTA instructors overseas and devote efforts to foster local Taekwondo instructors.
MT. There is talk of creating Kukkiwon’s own combat (Kyorugy). What can you tell us about this?
The underlying values in Taekwondo come from a strong mind and a healthy body, and I believe the essence of Taekwondo is implicit in its final letter, ‘Do (道)’. However, as Taekwondo continues to expand and develop, the essence of Taekwondo often loses its meaning. It is true that in the process of pursuing the globalization of Taekwondo, we only approach Taekwondo as a sport, not as a martial art.
During the Tokyo Olympics last July, we recognized that the essence of Taekwondo has faded a bit in the process of becoming a sports competition. Above all, I believe that sparring (Kyorugi) needs to be enhanced with the attributes of martial arts. Changes that overlook the essential value never last long.
I do not intend to ignore or diminish the various attempts and changes for the growth and development of Taekwondo, but I would like to pursue Taekwondo as a true martial art and improve that aspect to maintain the essential value of Taekwondo.
In that sense, we will carry out a multifaceted review of Kyorugi based on the essence of Taekwondo and propose alternatives.
MT: How is the Kukkiwon expansion project going, can you tell us about it?.
I have set two main tasks and I am actively promoting them. The first is to promote the globalization of Kukkiwon by organizing a worldwide committee covering 201 countries and establishing local branches and representative offices.
The task goes beyond expanding the size of Kukkiwon. We want to communicate and cooperate with Masters around the world to lead the development of Taekwondo.
We are in the process of organizing TF for the establishment of local branches and representative offices, and materializing international business.
The second important task is the reconstruction of the Kukkiwon. Since its completion on November 30, 1972, and the building held many competitions, such as the World Taekwondo Championship, and has been a source of pride for the world taekwondo family.
However, the building has survived more than five decades and is too old to represent the current state of Kukkiwon, which has developed rapidly. Therefore, I am in communication with experts in various fields to rebuild or renovate the Kukkiwon building and do my best to highlight the presence of Kukkiwon as a world taekwondo venue.
MT. What proposal would you make as a representative of Kukkiwon to improve the sport and society?
These days, we are seeing a rapid increase in social pathologies due to rapid social changes caused by radical industrial development. In response, we are conducting various studies to find answers to help people equip a healthy mind and manners.
Lawmakers, governments and academia recognize the seriousness of the social pathologies occurring in this fast-growing society, and there is increasing awareness and consensus on the need to develop decent personality and skills.
Taekwondo is a martial art and a sport that pursues being healthy through physical and mental training.
Therefore, top Taekwondo dojangs do not just teach Taekwondo techniques, but teach various aspects so that practitioners can foster social leadership and become decent people. Ultimately, learning Taekwondo helps practitioners to become a talent that society needs and to interact with others.
By practicing Taekwondo, practitioners can gain not only a healthy body and mind, but also honorable spirits of self-confidence, respect for others, filial piety and etiquette to respect parents and teachers, and the right perspective toward their home country.
Last but not least, practitioners can learn self-defense techniques to protect themselves and even help others in case of emergency.
What do you think could be the main contribution?
In the future, Kukkiwon will contribute to world peace by developing the competitiveness of taekwondo as the best martial arts sport in the world and promoting values in it. In the future, Kukkiwon will contribute to world peace by developing the competitiveness of taekwondo as the best martial arts sport in the world and promoting values.
MT. Do you have a message to convey?
Taekwondo is a sport that honors etiquette and refines people’s personalities through mental training and martial art that challenges people to go beyond themselves and interact with humanity.
If the people of the world equip themselves with the spirit of Taekwondo, I am sure the world will be more peaceful and beautiful than it is today.
Fellow members of the world Taekwondo community and readers of Mundotaekwondo.com!
I would like to give my word once again.
I will create an environment of trust and respect by effectively driving Kukkiwon innovation and transform it into an institution that everyone wants to visit, interact with the global community and contribute to world peace. It is necessary to contribute to world peace. In this process, I am willing to listen to your comments.
I will make continuous efforts step by step towards the goal. I believe that if the Kukkiwon makes constant effort with pride and believes in us, it could play a pivotal role in making another leap forward in Taekwondo. The bright future of Taekwondo is ahead of us.
I ask for your support and wisdom for Kukkiwon which is ready to take off flapping its wings vigorously like a bird.
Thank You. GM. Philippe Pinerd.