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The North’s Support for an Olympic Bid

Posted April. 07, 2007 07:54,   


On Friday morning, five North Korean reporters wearing armbands that read “Reporter” on their right arms appeared with cameras and notepads at the Gimpo International Airport terminal.

Following them, a sturdy old man with gray hair came out. The man was Jang Ung, 69, a member of the International Olympic Committee and the head of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). He came to South Korea with 48 North Koreans including Hwang Bong-young, the head of the Joseon Taekwondo Committee and 20 male and female Taekwondo demonstrators using Air Koryo, a North Korean, state-owned airline. It has been three years and eight months since he visited South Korea in August 2003 when the Daegu Universiade was held.

He came to the South to congratulate the country for its registration of a corporate aggregate of the South Korean branch of ITF, whose chief is Yu Wan-young. Jang smiled when he was bombarded with camera flashes, saying, “You have many pictures of me (as he has visited the South several times).”

After receiving a wreath from a child sent from ITF Korea and having pictures taken, he held a short press conference.

When asked about the bid for the 2014 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Jang said, “I can’t tell you in detail, since I am a member of the IOC. Otherwise, I would be referred to the ethics committee.”

However, he showed constant support indirectly by saying, “Mun Jae Dok, head of the Joseon sports committee, sent a document supporting Pyeongchang to the IOC, didn’t he?”

To the question about the integration of Taekwondo of South and North Korea, Jang, who has been the president of the ITF since 2002, said, “It is on the right track. We have the basic outlines and will continue discussing it.”

He said he plans to meet Kim Jin-seon, governor of Gangwon Province, Kim Un-young, former vice president of the IOC, and Jo Jung-won, president of the World Taekwondo Federation. He will visit Hoban Sports Complex in Gangwon Province at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Gayageum Hall of Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul at 5.00 p.m. on Sunday with Taekwondo demonstrators to give a performance, and will return to the North on Monday.