Tereza Verenca / Burnaby Now
Aug. 8, 2015 has been dubbed as Taekwondo Kukkiwon Day in the City of Burnaby.
City council made the proclamation at its meeting Monday night, with Mayor Derek Corrigan applauding Korea’s Kukkiwon taekwondo team and its huge success at the Korean Cultural Heritage Festival over the last two years.
“I do want to recognize this friendship that we’ve developed, a very special one,” said Corrigan. “Taekwondo in Korea is like hockey in Canada. It is the sport that really emulates the spirit of the Korean people. … I think all of us can agree, not only is it an athletic achievement, but it is one of the great character-building sports in our society.”
Corrigan went on to say he’d like to see such a proclamation made every year, and that he’s hopeful other communities will follow Burnaby’s lead.
Kukkiwon is the ultimate authority of taekwondo in Korea and throughout the world. The first time the sport was included in the Olympics was during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
The B.C. Taekwondo Federation and the Korean Cultural Heritage Society were the two other key organizations that helped bring forward the proclamation.
“We’ve come a long way, and we’re feeling so blessed to be a part of this,” said Mike Suk, executive director of the society, after the meeting. “It’s going to make a lot of positive impacts for a lot of people.”
Tony Kook, vice president of the federation, said the ultimate goal is to not only grow the cultural festival (which happened to land on Aug. 8 this year), but to bring taekwondo into local elementary schools, “to strengthen and empower children and youth and adults, and help them improve the qualities of their lives.”
“It’s not to get the exposure of where they’re learning punching and kicking,” Kook told the NOW. “But it’s learning the fundamental principles of respect and focus and teamwork.”
He added the logistics of bringing such a program to fruition are still being worked out.
This year’s 14th annual Korean Cultural Heritage Festival at Swangard Stadium attracted a crowd of about 30,000 people, according to Kook, making it the biggest one yet.
Going forward, Suk noted festival organizers are looking at making the event bigger by reaching out to more people, and will incorporate Olympic-style taekwondo tournaments.