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World Taekwondo Body Chief Reelected for 3rd Term

Posted October. 15, 2009 08:30,   


World Taekwondo Federation President Choue Chung-won enjoys mountain climbing. No matter how busy he is, he goes hiking at least two to three times a month.

While serving as president of Kyung Hee University in Seoul, he earned the nickname “firewood gathering president” because he was better at mountain climbing than young college students.

“When I climb mountains, I grow more humble and can ease animosity,” he said yesterday after his election to a third term as head of the federation in a vote in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Critics say he took “a free ride in an empty taxi” after taking the post in June 2005 from Kim Un-yong, a former member of the International Olympic Council who was disgraced in a bribery scandal.

Choue, however, has consolidated his position this time, scoring an overwhelming victory over an incumbent IOC member.

A federation source said, “By winning in the vote, President Choue became the undisputed captain of WTF, Inc.”

Choue himself also expressed confidence, saying “I have earned recognition for various reform programs,” adding, “I will redouble efforts to globalize taekwondo in the coming years.”

He faces a flurry of potential hurdles, however. The first is to dispel conflict among warring factions within the global body. A taekwondo community source and a former member of the national team said, “If Kukkiwon (the federation headquarters) is a domestic hotbed for factions engaged in factional strife, the WTF is a ring where global factional struggles are staged.”

Notably, critics say conflict deepened in the election period given the intense campaigns. Choue said he will begin a personnel reform following the end of the election. Resting on his shoulders is whether the upcoming reshuffle will trigger renewed confrontation or set a foundation for harmony.

Consolidating taekwondo as an official Olympic sport is another mandate for Choue. The traditional Korean martial art is set to remain an official sport for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but its fate thereafter remains unknown.

Warning signals include successive disputes over fairness in judgment and the sleepy proceedings of matches that are deemed boring. Last year, the federation’s secretary-general was caught handing over a bribe to an IOC member, and incurred the wrath of the IOC ethics committee.

The martial art can ill afford more disgrace because of corruption.

Choue said, “I will not seek to blame anyone for the struggles that erupted in the election campaign,” indicating that he will actively cooperate even with his opponents. He said he learned “the ability to embrace others” while climbing mountains.

Whether his mountaineering experience will help improve the culture at the World Taekwondo Federation remains to be seen.