|Taekwondo: a new strategy for Brand Korea|
|Date||December 21, 2009|
What kind of significance does taekwondo, the Korean martial art, hold
in Korea? Before Samsung, LG or the Korean Wave, there was taekwondo, the Korean
martial art that has long stood at the forefront of promoting Korea's image.
People from overseas who have never heard of kimchi, bulgogi or any other
details about Korea, still know this home-grown sport.
Taekwondo is currently being practiced by 70 million people in 190 nations. Nonetheless, there are still many places where taekwondo is unheard of – mainly in developing or under-developed nations.
In these countries, the government plans to expand the dispatch of taekwondo demonstration teams and Korean Peace Corps, thus widening the horizon for the taekwondo and promoting Korea and Korean culture. Forming a personnel network with government officials in sports department and other fields would help improve bilateral ties. Korea has so far concluded a series of treaties to send taekwondo instructors to 26 nations, taekwondo demonstration teams to 31 nations and taekwondo Peace Corps to 20 nations by 2012.
The government has decided to dispatch some 90 global taekwondo interns to the United States, where taekwondo's biggest overseas market is. Taekwondo interns will serve at taekwondo training institutes in schools and other places for about six months on average.
The World Taekwondo Academy, an official education and research institute for taekwondo, will be established by 2013. It is expected to hold a taekwondo symposium every year. Moreover, there will be taekwondo training centers in more regions throughout the world. The training period for overseas taekwondo trainers and practitioners to Korea will be extended. The government plans to bestow honorary taekwondo certificates to officials in taekwondo-related organizations, as well as members of the International Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committees of various nations plus presidents and lawmakers of many other countries, ramping up the promotion of taekwondo.
Establishing cooperation between taekwondo experts & organizations
Taekwondo's big problem in the present is the lack of global network. Over 90 percent of the taekwondo market operates separate from Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarters. Links between taekwondo teachers are weak, with some areas even releasing individual taekwondo certificates.
To counter this, the government is pursuing ways to form a body that could help coordinate cooperation between taekwondo groups, experts and advisors. Information on taekwondo trends around the world will be collected for inclusion in a database.
An online taekwondo community will be formed -- tentatively named Taekwondo Cyber World for now – within the next year to facilitate a community for taekwondo practitioners, communities and training centers. The new website will distribute educational contents and boost promotion. It will be serviced in several languages as well.
Other world events like taekwondo leaders' forum will be held to exchange relevant information such as developing standards for running taekwondo training centers and assisting the globalization of overseas taekwondo institutes. A unified taekwondo brand is another idea to add to the image.
Developing Taekwondo tourism packages
Linking taekwondo with the Korean Wave, the government is considering a world taekwondo youth camp, world taekwondo culture expo, Day of Taekwondo (Sept. 4) and other big events to bring together taekwondo practitioners from around the world.
A taekwondo demonstration at both Gyeonghui-gung Palace in Seoul and other places overseas will be expanded.
Music, dance and colorful stories will be added to the martial art to highlight its various applications and become the new source of tourist revenue. Once a fully refined stage performance for taekwondo is ready, the government plans to subsidize it, helping with its participation in festivals around the world. A permanent stage specializing in taekwondo dance will be built after consulting with the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation.
Taekwondo Park is being built in Muju, Jeollabuk-do (North Jeolla Province) and expected to be opened officially in September 2013. A total of 235.1 billion won is being invested into 2,314,000 square meters of land that will be equipped with centers for research and training and other cultural facilities for tourism. By 2017 the park will be complete with places like a hotel, youth hostel and oriental medicine complex, after the investment of another 364.9 billion won of private funds.
The training center will include a taekwondo graduate school, outdoor sparring site and other stages for recreation. taekwondo exhibition room, memorial hall and sculptures of taekwondo forms (poomsae). There will be an academy for taekwondo which will be raised to become the best academic and research center for Korea's most popular martial art.
<b>Taekwondo for animation, game & other cultural contents</b>
Chinese Shaolin, which is a combination of Buddhist Zen and kung fu martial arts, has reaped massive revenues through the successful marketing of its image through food, beverages, education and film industry. Korea found similar potential in its 1970s animation “Robot Taekwon V” and in the late 1990s through a non-verbal martial arts performance called “Jump.”
The Presidential Council on Nation Branding decided to give active support to developing contents based on the spirit and other cultural factors of taekwondo in the fields of animation, games, movies, cartoons and more. The council is seeking ways to develop an official mascot for taekwondo.
*Adapted by Weekly Gonggam Magazine
By Kim Hee-sung
Korea.net Staff Writer