2017.06.30 (금)

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태권도

South Korean President, North Korean Athletes Meet at 2017 World Taekwondo WTF, ITF Demonstrations Form Highlights of Spectacular Opening Ceremony

NBC-1TV World News

[By NBC-1TV K. Y Yi]MUJU, Korea (June 24, 2017) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in a surprise visit to the
first day of the 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships Opening Ceremony, spoke of his hopes for sportive and political reconciliation between the two Koreas.


His address preceded the highlight of the championships’ Opening Ceremony – a highly symbolic back-to-back demonstration by teams from the International Taekwondo Federation, or ITF, and the WTF With 183+1 (the “one” denotes a refugee team) nations represented and 1,800 athletes and officials registered, 2017 is the biggest taekwondo World Championships ever, welcoming 17 countries which have never formerly taken part. It also welcomed some very special guests: Moon – the first national president ever to visit a World Taekwondo Championships – and the ITF Team, composed of North Koreans, and an accompanying delegation.


“We have guests who are closest in distance but who have traveled a long way to be here,” said Moon, referring to the ITF visitors from North Korea. “I hope that that WTF and ITF can become one and South and North Korea can become one and the world can become one as well.”


Moon also expressed his hope that the WTF would be able to perform at the upcoming ITF World Championships in Pyongyang, North Korea, in September. Part of Moon’s presidential platform is dialog with North Korea; his meetings with North Korean officials and athletes in Muju today mark the first cross-border contact of his administration.


Moon was thanked by WTF President Chungwon Choue. Following Moon’s theme, Choue -who had earlier that day said he anticipates increased cooperation between the WTF and TF to follow the championships, expressed his hopes that the tournament would be a “festival of peace and harmony.”

The opening ceremony that formed the backdrop to this sports diplomacy was jaw-dropping. It opened with video on the overhead screens of taekwondo matches, performances and Taekwondowon - the world’s largest taekwondo-dedicated training facility and the championship venue - and a recorded message about the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, a charity initiative which empowers child refugees worldwide via the gift of taekwondo training.


The first performance was a show stopper: It featured floodlit chime drums being played and dancers gyrating over the floor – which doubled as a screen, over which film of taekwondo history ran, to the aural backdrop of pansori, or Korean opera. The second performance was a live dance/drama covering taekwondo’s recent history, from the first world championships in 1973 to the present – again, making full use of the stadium floor as a screen, with booming music.


This was followed by a group taekwondo performance, serenaded by a troupe of traditional percussionists whose thunderous rhythm set the tempo for their punches and kicks. It concluded with what may well be a world record of serial jump spinning kick breaks along the length of the stadium floor. Next was more taekwondo-themed dance and a fan dance set to, inevitably, the Korean folk tune “Arirang.”


Then, President Moon was introduced on the VIP stand – he waved to the crowd to wild applause. After he took his seat, a key moment came: The newly rebranded World Taekwondo flag was marched on, before the flags of all participating nations entered the field of play. The crowd rose as the Korean national anthem was sung by a children’s choir.


After Moon and Choue had spoken, Chung Sye-kyun, Speaker of the National Assembly of Korea, said, “I am happy to hear your thunder.” Next, IOC Vice President Zaqing Yu delivered a message from IOC President Thomas Bach, telling the athletes, “All of you are assured to make your mark here in Muju.” Bach himself will visit the championships on June 30 for the Closing Ceremony.


Tae-hun Kim of Korea – the 2017 championships host nation - and Bianca Walkden of Great Britain – the 2019 championships host nation - recited the athletes’ oath. This was followed by the referees’ oath. An opening declaration was read by the Governor of Muju and the two chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Then the flags exited the stadium and a troupe of taekwondo players performed with a group banners. Next it was the turn of the famous WTF Demonstration Team to ignite the arena.


In black, white and colored doboks, they performed group poomsae that ran like a marital kaleidoscope, then a flying series of non-stop kick breaks. Funkier stuff followed: Taekwondo dance, set to thumping electronic rock. Next: Traditional group poomsae and sky-high breaks, followed by power breaks.


A performance followed using – unusually for taekwondo, a primarily unarmed martial art – oars and sticks. After this, the team surged over the floor in a parade of freestyle leaps, kicks and gymnastics to K-rock. The show ended with high breaks that unfurled the new World Taekwondo banner.


After the stage was cleared of smashed boards, the highly anticipated ITF Demonstration Team, composed of North Koreans, entered. While the ITF Team may have lacked the WTF Team’s upbeat tempo, artistry and showmanship – color, lights and music - they made up for it with a hardcore, muscular and macho brand of taekwondo. The team marched on wearing plain, traditional doboks, and were introduced by a sturdy matron at the mic.


First, they performed traditional group poomsae marked by powerful basics. This was followed by self-defense and power kick breaks using unusual angles - jumping ax kicks and jump twist kicks. Next was female-against male self-defense including head locks with the legs followed by full body slams.


A drama – three attackers assaulted a young man and his lady friend – followed. All attackers were swiftly dispatched. Next came power breaks by the team’s biggest member against some very thick boards. The breaker was given the biggest applause of the evening for his repeated efforts to break one particular chunk that stubbornly refused to shatter.


Next were a series of well-timed two-versus-one, three-versus-one and four-versus-one fights, which incorporated the hero being beaned with wooden poles. There were more breaks and somersault breaks, then the unbreakable board was bought out once more. Yet again, it failed to succumb, even to a barrage of jumping spinning back kicks. The ITF show ended with break falls, combat techniques and tile smashes that left powder from the shattered masonry lingering in the air.


In an unscheduled development, President Moon walked onto the stadium floor and shook the hands of every member of both the ITF and WTF teams, before both teams and assembled VIPs took group photos.


The photos concluded opening ceremony. The championship semi-finals and finals begin tomorrow, and the tournament ends on June

 

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