Interesting scenes were seen during the World Taekwondo Hanmadang Games that was held at the Halla Gymnasium in Jeju City last month. The event operators saw four middle school students who participated as Taekwondo players of Tanzania, Africa singing all four verses of the national anthem of Korea in Korean. They are Tanzania’s national taekwondo players who participated the international competition led by Kim Jeong-ho who is a missionary in Tanzania and taekwondo instructor.
This reporter met Mr. Kim after the Games at a café in southern Seoul on July 28, before he departed Korea.
“At first, residents and elders in Islamic regions were very cautious of Christian missionaries," said the 52-year-old. "I asked them if I could rent a gym to teach taekwondo but I was rejected."
Mr. Kim, who has been engaged in missionary activities in Zanzibar, Tanzania since 2008, told this reporter that he faced many obstacles when he first went to Tanzania.
The Korean missionary, a black belt holder majored in taekwondo at Yongin University, now has the nickname "father of Taekwondo in Tanzania" as he overcame difficulties and approached residents through taekwondo.
He operates nine taekwondo clubs in Tanzania, fostering some 100 students, 20 of whom officially hold black belts. He took in children who had nowhere to go and fostered them as taekwondo students, bearing all tuition fees and child rearing expenses by himself.
Even after the Hanmadang Games was over, Mr. Kim took his players to various places in Korea notwithstanding the scorching heat. “We visited Kukkiwon, various taekwondo games, and education sites to so that my students can actually experience the ‘taekwondo Korea’ that they were aware of only by words.”
Hope and vision kids in Tanzania have compared to their peers in Kenya and Uganda are small, but I am proud to see my students who dream to become taekwondo players and instructors, knowing Korea through the national anthem," the Korean missionary said. "It is my dream to establish a sports school to allow students to become more familiar with Korea.”
Jae-Yeong Yoo firstname.lastname@example.org