|Demonstration teams from the World Taekwondo and International Taekwondo Federation hold a joint performance at the packed Taekwondo Hall in Pyongyang, Friday. Courtesy of World Taekwondo|
By Jung Min-ho
PYONGYANG, North Korea ― "One Korea, one taekwondo." This was the main message from Friday's joint performance between the World Taekwondo (WT) and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) in the North Korean capital.
In front of more than 2,300 people that packed the Taekwondo Hall, demonstration teams from the two international governing bodies put on a wonderful show, in which they displayed jaw-dropping martial arts virtuosity and delivered an emotional message of peace.
"Among the four joint performances they have displayed so far, this one was the best," WT President Choue Chung-won said. "They seem to get better and better. I'm looking forward to their next performance."
Among the dignitaries who watched the event were Choe Hwi, the chairman of North Korea's National Athletics Guidance Committee and International Taekwondo Federation President (ITF) Ri Yong-son.
After the event, Choe invited a WT delegation, ITF officials and athletes to a special dinner at Okryugwan, where he congratulated the two organizations for the achievements they made here.
"Taekwondo is one just like Korea is one," he said. "I hope taekwondo will contribute to our country's unification and prosperity."
The WT team opened the show with a fusion of poomsae and modern dance. As they began carrying out "blindfold breaks," in which the strikers have to hit the targets only by hand bell sound, the mood changed.
Then came a series of brilliantly coordinated breaks involving high-level punches and kicks and choreographed fight routines.
|Choe Hwi, the chairman of North Korea's National Athletics Guidance Committee, speaks to a World Taekwondo delegation, International Taekwondo Federation officials and athletes at Okryugwan in Pyongyang, Friday.|
The evening's climax came with the song, "Nice to Meet You." Everyone at the arena rose to their feet to give the athletes a standing ovation.
After a 30 minute WT performance, the ITF team marched on in traditional, all-white dobok ― without any background music.
The ITF athletes' performance was full of power moves ― breaking bricks and tiles with kicks and enduring strikes across their limbs and torsos.
While the WT's performance was more colorful and entertaining, the ITF's one appeared to be more traditional, emphasizing power and realistic fighting skills.
Their joint poomsae wrapped up the evening and the crowd reacted enthusiastically with a thunderous applause.
The WT and ITF athletes shook hands; some of them embraced each other. For many, it was an expected reunion at the same venue after their joint performance in April.
"I was glad to see them again, which I did not expect at the time," Choi Ha-na, 21, said.
"This time I'm more certain that the WT and ITF demonstration teams will meet again here. I may not be able to return next time, but my team will."