Korean President Pledges Unification Through Sport

(ATR) Cooperation between South and North Korean sports teams could unify the peninsula, Jae In Moon said in Muju

(ATR) Korean President Jae In Moon says the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships could represent the start of future unification in the Korean Peninsula.

Moon attended the 2017 championships opening ceremony in Muju, South Korea. During the visit Moon gave a speech that focused the inclusion of the North Korean, International Taekwondo Federation demonstration team.

The team participated in the World Taekwondo Championships for the second straight edition. This performance was the first time a North Korean ITF taekwondo delegation performed on South Korean soil.

Moon said that the ITF delegation came from the "closestin distance but perhaps had to travel the greatest to get there." After particiatping in Muju, he expressed his desire to see a North Korean delegation in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. So far, no athlete from North Korea has qualified for the Games, but that could change depending on a pair of figure skaters. North Korea boycotted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

The solidarity of the moment Moon likened to when both North and South Korea marched as one delegation in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

"I believe in the power of sports that has been creating peace," Moon said in his address. "I hope the achievements made here in the field of Taekwondo may be carried over to the PyeongChang Winters Olympics next year."

Moon said he wished for World Taekwondo and the ITF "can become one" through the parallel demonstrations. World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue ruled out any talks of the two federations merging earlier in the day, but agreed about enhanced cooperation.

The South Korean President said that the bonds forged in Muju could "create a turning point for reconciliation between the two Koreas".

"I ask Ung Chang and the IOC members here for your keen interest and cooperation," Moon said. "You have my word that the Korean government will make all necessary efforts and provide active support."

Choue, during his opening address, said that Moon’s appearance was the first time a sitting President ever graced the Taekwondo World Championships. The opening address echoed Moon’s call for unification by recognizing the "global taekwondo family".

"We may be different federations but we are one family," Choue said. "The global taekwondo family let us make this championship a festival for peace and harmony."

Written by Aaron Bauer in Muju

Travel paid for by World Taekwondo

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