US Taekwondo Athletes Plan DMZ Crossing

Stephan Haggard (PIIE) and Kent Boydston (PIIE)
July 24, 2015 7:00 AM

Michael Bassett tipped us to the fact that Korean-American Taekwondo Grandmaster Jung Woo-jin is organizing an exchange trip to the DPRK with his North Korean counterparts. Jung has quietly sponsored North Korean Taekwondo demo teams in the United States before and according to his website, has been involved in North-South Taekwondo exchanges since 1991. There are some rough-cut videos on YouTube of several of these visits (here and here).  But as part of the trip, he is taking a page out of the “Women Crossing the DMZ” peace walk that we reported on last month. A joint delegation is going to walk across the DMZ. Sports diplomacy has had a rough time recently; the North canceled participation of its student athletes in the 2015 Summer Universiade games in Gwangju, purportedly in protest to the opening of the new UN human rights field office in Seoul. According to Jung, North Korean officials have approved the trip and South Korean officials have said they will consider the American team’s request to enter the country upon receipt of formal request from the group. The women’s walk caught a lot of flak; it will be revealing to see whether a team of male athletes gets the same reaction.


Liars N. Fools

The reason why the Women Cross the DMZ for Peace group too so much flak, and.not just from right-wingers in South Korea, was because of their moral equivalency stance towards a ROK which has some lingering human rights issues and a DPRK which commits some of the most heinous and wide violations of human rights in the world. Should not human rights activists like these Women have called out the DPRK leadership instead of paying homage at Kumsusan? And which country is standing in the way of peace and unification: a wealthy democratic ROK whose people are world travelers or a closed dictatorial DPRK which threatens the region and further with nukes, missiles, and cyber? Let the Taekwondo group cross in peace. It has no moral or moralizing mission as hypocritical as these Women.

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