‘World Taekwondo Peace Festival’ Held to Mark Olympic Taekwondo, UN International Day of Peace



By Seok-Jae Kang
Asia Journalists Association Vice President

SEOUL: The World Taekwondo Peace Festival was held in Seoul, Korea on November 22 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Olympic taekwondo and the 40th anniversary of the UN International Day of Peace.

The event, which took place at the Seosomun Shrine History Museum, was jointly promoted by World Taekwondo (WT), GCS International and the U.N. Association of the Republic of Korea.


The peace festival was scheduled on September 30, but the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic forced to reschedule.

Among the attendees were World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue; Mr. Ban Ki-moon, former U.N. Secretary General; Mr. Kim Jung-bae, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism; Mr. Lee Si-jong, governor of the North Chungcheong Province; Muju County Governor Hwang In-hong; and Mr. Lee Ho-jin, acting president of the U.N. Association of the ROK.

In attendance at the event were Mr. Lee Dai-soon, former WT vice president; Mr. Jeon Kab-kil, chairman of the Kukkiwon; Mr. Yang Jin-bang, president of the Korean Taekwondo Association; Oh Eung-hwan, chairman of the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation; and Mr. Jung Kook-hyun, a WT Council member. The event also drew over 20 foreign envoys as World Taekwondo invited ambassadors of the 41 countries which have earned at least one medal at the Olympic and Paralympic taekwondo competitions.


Also on hand were Mr. Seung Myung-ho, chairman of the Hankook Ilbo and a board member of GCS International; Mr. Park Yang-woo, vice president of WT; Mr. Jung Hee-taeg, president of the Segye Times; and Mr. Mr. Oh Young-jin, president publisher of the Korea Times.

The peace festival, which lasted about 2 hours, featured a 20-minute taekwondo performance by the WT Demonstration Team, an opening ceremony, and a one-hour peace concert.

The WT Demonstration Team showed the world that taekwondo is for peace as they competed in the preliminary round of the ‘America’s Got Talent’ in April this year to receive a golden buzzer to reach up to the final round in September.


Shortly after the performance, there were an opening ceremony, in which WT President Choue delivered an opening speech, followed by congratulatory remarks by Vice Sport Minister Kim Jung -bae, former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.N. Association-Korea President Lee Ho-jin. IOC President Thomas Bach also gave a congratulatory video message for the participants.

The peace concert featured eight songs. Mezzo-soprano Paik Nam-ok performed “Song of Peace,” a song written by GCS Movement founder Dr. Young Seek Choue and composed by Kim Dong-jin. Yoo Kyung-hwa performed “Oblivion Bird” using “Chelhyeongeum,” a combination of “Geomungo,” a traditional Korean musical instrument with six strings, and a guitar.


Then the Korean Soul, a famous Korean black gospel group, performed “Oh Happy Day,” followed by “Yo Soy Maria” by the Jazz Quartet of piano Lee Woo-chang, bass Mowg, drum Choi Joseph and vocal Kiel Hanna, all professors of the Postmodern Music Department of Kyung Hee University. Band Leenalchi, a seven-member band, performed “Tiger is Coming” and “Please Don’t Go.” The Korean Adopted Children Choir performed “Magnolia Blossom,” which was written by GCS founder Young Seek Choue and composed by Kim Dong-jin, and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

WT President Choue said in his opening remarks, “Since 2000, taekwondo has featured in six consecutive Olympic Games. Throughout the past 21 years, taekwondo has not only brought excitement to fans around the world; taekwondo has also created a pathway for refugees, displaced persons, and the underprivileged to fulfil their sporting dreams. In Tokyo, we had four taekwondo refugee athletes competing for the very first time in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”


Dr. Choue, who also serves as president GCS International since 2006, continued to say, “Taekwondo is a sport that gives hope to those who dream of being champions. In total, we have 41 countries that have medaled in taekwondo at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, making it one of the fairest sports in terms of medal distribution.”

“My philosophy, which was passed down from my late father, Dr. Choue Young Seek, who was the inspiration behind the creation of the U.N. International Day of Peace, is that ‘Peace is More Precious than triumph,” he said. “I sometimes wish that there is no such things as an U.N. International Day of Peace, because we should all live in a peaceful world every day. Unfortunately, there is no such utopian world. Therefore, the commemoration of the 40th U.N. International Day of Peace this year is a reminder that we, as global leaders, have a role to play in nurturing generations to live in harmony and respect. In a world of peace.”


Kim Jung-bae, vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, said, “the New York Times reported that taekwondo is Korea’s first and the most successful cultural brand before the K-pop.” “The government will do its best to help support taekwondo maintain its core sport position at the Olympic Games.”

Former U.N. Secretary General Ban said in his congratulatory speech, “I believe that this year’s International Day of Peace is particularly timely as 2021 also marks the 100th birthday of the late Kyung Hee University President Choue Young Seek.”


Mr. Ban said. “I remember President Choue fondly as a man of vision and insight. At that time, I was serving as director for the U.N. Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry and involved in the process of proclaiming International Peace Day. Looking back, it was Dr. Choue who initiated the very idea of International Day of Peace.” “In 1981 the U.N. General Assembly adopted its landmark resolution to designate the International Day of Peace. Since Korea was not a yet a full U.N. member state, Dr. Choue’s role was to work behind the scenes.”


Mr. Lee Jin-ho, acting president of the U.N. Association of the ROK said in his congratulatory remarks, “The International Day of Peace was initiated and established by all dedicated efforts of a prominent Korean, the late Dr. Young Seek Choue, founder and then president of Kyung Hee University. In retrospect, Dr. Choue’s dedication to peace was so remarkable and historic that the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution to establish the International Day of Peace at the peak of the Cold War 20 years ago.”


“Dr. Choue started to shape the idea from the Conference of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP). In July 1981 in Costa Rica, Dr. Choue proposed that the U.N. dedicate one day in a year to ceasefire, non-violence and international peace. The IAUP accepted his idea in the ‘Costa Rica Resolution.’ It was placed and adopted in the U.N. General Assembly on November 30, 1981,” Lee said. “Can you possibly imagine that there is someone like Dr. Choue who upheld peace as the most crucial agenda of the world to be taken and commemorated every year, especially during the Cold War confrontation which often crippled the U.N. and complicated its peace mission? Here, we find that Dr. Choue an individual achieved what even the U.N. could not have done. For this reason alone, Dr. Choue should deserve to be a visionary and pioneer in the cause of Peace.”


In his congratulatory video message, IOC President Bach said, “Today’s festival is more than celebrating the long history of taekwondo as an Olympic sport. Today you are putting the spotlight on the unique power of sport to unite the entire world in peace.”


“Peace, this was also central to the thinking of the founder of the IOC, Pierre de Coubertin. When he revived the Olympic Games 127 years ago, he saw them as a way to promote peace among nations and peoples,” the IOC President said. “This is why I would like to thank World Taekwondo under the great leadership of your president Choue for organizing this festival that celebrates sport, peace and solidarity.”

Search in Site