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Tainted reputation of taekwondo in Korea

Posted September. 17, 2014 05:56,   


When asked about what comes to mind if foreignerd hear "Korea," many of them may answer Kpop, TV series, or movies these days. However, the most frequent answer to the same question was taekwondo in the past. When kimchi, gochujang (red pepper paste) and Arirang (Korean traditional song) have stayed inside Korea and Korean communities around the world, taekwondo has spread all over the world, beyond the barriers of ethnicity, culture and ideology. Some analyze that taekwondo’s secret for success is the spirit that emphasizes politeness and self-disciplines, unlike other martial arts. It has widely been known that learning taekwondo can change a person’s personality.

“Bronze medal costs 10 million won, silver 20 million won, gold 40 million won…” Former executive of the Seoul City Taekwondo Association had an interview with a radio program on Monday and reported rumors about bribery to manipulate taekwondo game results. A father of senior youth taekwondo player surnamed Jeon, who was leading the game but defeated after receiving lots of warnings right before the end of game in the 2013 Korean National Sports Festival, killed himself leaving a suicide note to criticize the judge. Regarding the police investigation results to discover an organized game result manipulation, the former taekwondo association executive said, “(It is) just a tip of iceberg.”

Game result manipulation is nothing new in the sports arena, where fair play is more important than anything. In the K-league, Korea’s professional football league, dozens of players including the former national soccer player were expelled from the association due to game result manipulation in 2011. More cases of game result manipulation were discovered in the professional baseball and volleyball leagues in 2012 and professional basketball league in 2013. Even in the sports powerhouses such as the U.S., Europe and Japan, the game results are manipulated quite often.

“Cha-ryeot (attention), Gyeong-rye (bow to each other), Geu-man (stop)…” Korean is spoken to proceed a taekwondo game in 206 member countries of the World Taekwondo Association. Even though taekwondo is now globalized to an extent where a native serves as head of the association in most of member countries, the source of taekwondo spirit is Korea as seen from the terms used in a game. However, chronic controversy over game result manipulation and power struggle among fractions have tainted the reputation of taekwondo. To regain love from people around the world and to retain taekwondo as an Olympic sport, it is necessary to reform to enhance fairness of judgment. Taekwondo athletes must join forces together to deal a blow to break down the deep-rooted game result manipulation.