Taekwondo>History>Chapter 16: Growth

↩ Back

Chapter 16: Growth


Park Chung Hee, formerly known as Lieutenant Okamoto Minoru, of the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria, and fought against Korean Revolutionary Army during the Japanese occupation; Park's political ideology was mixed. After the end of World War II, Park joined the Korean Army. In 1948, Major Park participated in a Stalinist cell organized and led by his elder brother within the South Korean army, the Yosu Mutiny, and was arrested on November 11, 1948, tortured for several weeks, and sentenced to death at a court-martial. General Choi was one of the military officers that participated in this court-martial. However, Park gained a reprieved as a result of his cooperation with the authorities. He identified his former associates, including his own brother, but he was stripped of his rank and released from prison and the army. He was broke emotionally and financially and eked out a living as a civilian consultant for the army (intelligence informant). The Korean War saved Park's life. He was put in charge of the army security unit and he rapidly rose in the army hierarchy.

Park becomes president

On June 27, 1960, President Syngman Rhee resigned. On May 15, 1961, a military coup led by General Park Chung Hee ousted the Second Republic, kicking out Prime Minister Chang Myon (1899-1966), an inept civilian who replaced Syngman Rhee, and placing himself in charge, and ended democracy in Korea. At the end of 1962, Park became the President of the Third Republic.

Park was virtually unknown to American officials, he was not the man the United States would have chosen to lead the new Korea, there were strong suspicions that Park was a crypto-socialist and the media sometimes referred to him as "Parkov", a Russianized version of his name. Although Park did not have affiliations with the Stalinist movement, his thinking and ideological orientation was decidedly Stalinist. However, his predilection for central planning and autocratic control probably came from his experiences in the Japanese army.

The Japanese army had no sympathy for notions of free markets and in Manchukuo undertook a Stalinist style development program. Park's program for the economic development was modeled more on Meiji-era Japan than the Soviet Union. On the political front, Park gradually yielded to pressure from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Administration. One of the first things Park did after assuming power was to persecute South Korean business and arbitrarily arrest many political leaders. Kim Dae Jung escaped arrest only because he was out of the country, and the security apparatus entered its most draconian period. Putting down dissent and becoming infamous for his use of torture, Park maintained a policy of dictatorship, dissolved the National Assembly, suspended the constitution, suppressed the press and opposition parties, and controlled the judicial system and the universities. On June 19, 1961, Park established, organized and expanded the dreaded Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) under Kim Jong Pill who later was prime minister twice (from 1971-1975 under the Park administration and from 1998-2000 under the Kim Dae Jung administration).

When Park normalized relations with Japan in 1965 with a treaty signed on June 22, 1965, more than 80,000 college students marched against Park's pro-Japanese policies in Seoul and Pusan. The student leaders were brutally beaten and eliminated by the Korean CIA.

In 1972, Park declared martial law and set up the yushin system of government. Until 1979, Park ruled by presidential decree and criticism of him or his government was expressly illegal.

Seoul's KCIA Director Lee Hu Rak visited Pongyang from May 2, 1972 to May 5, 1972 and met with Pyongyang's Director of Cadre Organization Kim Young Ju, and Pak Sung Chul, the 2nd Vice-premier, on behalf of Director Kim Yong Ju, visited Seoul from May 29, 1972 to June 1, 1972 and met with Director Lee Hu Rak. The parties have exchanged their views on the mutual desire for the early peaceful reunification of Korea and made progress in the mutual understanding of the other side's points of views. The parties have reached a unanimous agreement on items for reducing North-South tensions caused by the lack of mutual communication for so long, and for promoting the reunification of the fatherland.

Park's influence on taekwondo

Park grew increasingly harsh toward political dissidents. One day in August 1973, Kim Dae Jung, who had loudly and courageously been criticizing the yushin system, was kidnapped from a hotel in Tokyo. United States President Richard Nixon through his Ambassador Philip Charles Habib in South Korea immediately ordered his aides to find out where the opposition leader was being hidden. Informed the next morning that South Korea agents had seized Kim, Habib rushed to Blue House, the presidential mansion, to tell Park. The result was that Kim, on a small boat, tied hand and foot and waiting to be thrown into the East Sea, was returned safely to Seoul. Not long afterward, Park fired Lee Hu Rak after learning of strong American opposition to his agency's actions against South Korean citizens who opposed the yushin system.

The intelligence chief's replacement was a former justice minister who did much to curtail the use of torture. After 18 years at the helm, Park had become increasingly isolated from his people and his regime had grown markedly more repressive. These trends combined with an economic downturn, caused many Koreans to feel that he had stayed too long as President.

On August 15, 1974, Moon Se Kwang, a South Korean living in Japan, infiltrated security at Seoul's National Theater and shot at President Park, who was making a speech at a Liberation Day ceremony. The bullet missed Park but hit his wife Yook Yong Soo. In true "iron man" fashion, Park completed his speech before rushing to the bedside of his dying wife. Four months after his failed attempt, Moon was convicted and executed. The event seriously strained diplomatic relationships between Japan and South Korea. South Korea concluded that Moon was acting on behalf of North Korea, but Japan refused to accept South Korea's position.

Many Koreans believe that Park was a small-town hood, who wrecked South Korea's emerging democracy and who initiated South Korea's false fa├žade of economic prosperity. Park was assassinated on October 26, 1979, while enjoying a Japanese-style geisha party with two young women at a KCIA safe house in Namsan. He was assassinated by the head of his own intelligence agency, his life-long friend General Kim Jae Kyu (1926-1980) a fellow pro-Japanese who was a volunteer kamikaze pilot for Hirohito (1901-1989) in the name of "democracy." Park's Prime Minister, Choi Kyu Ha, succeeded Park. A few months later, a pro-Park general Chun Doo Hwan, mounted a coup and ousted Choi.

Koreans think that Park betrayed Korea twice; first, when he volunteered to serve the Japanese emperor, and second when he hocked the future of Korea for Japanese yen. Park had reigned as a dictator over South Korea for eighteen years, and his military background had an enormous impact on taekwondo's development.

Korean Taekwondo Association

Despite the historic merging, dissension between the kwans did not end at the 1955 meeting. There was still much animosity between the various masters.

In November 1958, the Korea Tang-Soo Do Association applied for membership to the Korea Amateur Sports Association (KASA) but it was denied because there was a rival organization, the Korea Kong-Soo Do Association. The KASA agreed to accept the application only if both organizations united. Representatives of the two associations met and agreed to unite under the name Korea Soo-Bahk-Do Association. However, before the application could be approved, General Choi sent a petition delaying the proceedings because his school, the Oh-Do-Kwan, was being left out of the process. Finally, on September 3, 1959, representatives of the six kwans agreed to unite under the name Korea Taekwondo Association and Choi was elected its president, however, this organization would not last very long. Members who attended the meeting were:
  • The Director of the Korean Amateur Sports Association
  • The Director of Physical Education from the Ministry of Education
  • General Choi Hong Hi
  • The Kwang Jang of the major kwans: Chung Do Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan. and Moo Duk Kwan.

Also in 1959, Choi published his first work on taekwondo, entitled Taekwondo Guidelines, and he was appointed the deputy commander of the Second Army in Tae-gu.

Choi was elected president because of his position as a general in the Korean Army (under a military regime) and because he promised the heads of the original kwans that he would promote taekwondo. He also had the support of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports, which was the official sport governing body in Korea. However, the country was poor and had other more pressing concerns than spending valuable resources on martial arts. Because the government failed to come through with the things Choi had promised, he fell into disfavor with the other kwan heads.

General Choi was accused of being autocratic and not consulting other kwans in decisions. Black Belts holders from all civilian kwans had to retest for their black belts when they joined the army. Only members of Ohdokwan and Nam Tae Hi's Chungdokwan were exempted. General Choi said that Jidokwan, Changmookwan, and other schools had different structural forms from the Ohdokwan and Chungdokwan so the military needed to test their members. Choi was also accused of dispatching instructors without consultation. General Choi had extreme power because of his military positions and the backing of the Liberal Party of President Syngman Rhee, so he overshadowed all the other master of other kwans.

According to a statement published on June 15, 1959, in the Seoul Shinmoon newspaper, Duk Song Son rescinded an honorary 4th Dan ranking he had awarded Choi in 1955 at the request of Tae Hi Nam while Son was the 2nd head of the Chung Do Kwan. The Moo-Duk-Kwan and Ji-Do-Kwan withdrew from the group. Son Duk Sung of the Chung-Do-Kwan, the largest civilian gym in Korea, also remained aloof. Son developed the Korean Soo-Bahk-Do Association as a rival of the KTA and finally left Korea.

General Choi served as president of the KTA until 1962 when he was promoted as Ambassador to Malaysia General Myung Shin Chae took over as president of the Korea Taekwondo Association, and a few days later, Choi read in a newspaper that the name taekwondo had been changed to taesoodo. On September 19, 1961, by presidential decree, the newly formed association became the Korea Taesoodo Association. This is considered the "true" inauguration of the KTA. Mr. Chae Myung Shin (a non-martial artist) was chosen the first KTA president, serving until January 15, 1965. When Choi returned from Malaysia in 1965, he was elected President of Korea Taesoodo Association (from September 1961 until January 1965, Choi had not served in the Korea Tae-soo-do Association as either an officer or president).

Choi served as president for one year, during which he convinced the association to change its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association. The name change was completed on August 5, 1965. On January 30, 1966, Noh Byung Jik, founder of the song-moo-kwan, was elected president of the KTA. From 1967 through 1969, Kim Yong Chae was president of the KTA. From 1970 through 2004, Dr. Ung Yong Kim was president of the KTA.

On February 23, 1963, President Park Chung Hee told the various martial arts associations to unify under the banner of the KTA and come under the auspices of the Korean Athletics Association. The government said it would only officially recognize black belts that were certified by the KTA. This caused many of the renegade martial artists to return to the KTA.

On February 25, 1962, the KTA became the 27th affiliate to join the Korea Amateur Sports Association. On October 9, 1963, taekwondo became an official event for the first time in the 44th National Athletic Meet. It was during this meet that great leaps in the development of taekwondo competition rules and protective equipment occurred.

As taekwondo grew in popularity, its emphasis was shifted from a combat art into a sport that concentrated on competition.

↩ Back

No comments: