A promotional picture for the World Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation ©WTF

A Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) is a new priority for the World Taekwondo Federation following a successful launch by President Chungwon Choue at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 21.

Choue was speaking on the UN's International Day of Peace, an event first proposed in 1981 by his late father Young Seek Choue, who at the time headed the International Association of University Presidents General Assembly.

The THF will discharge teams of instructors to teach taekwondo to young people in refugee camps around the world, keeping them active, while aiming to instil in them taekwondo's philosophy and values of Olympism.

Plans for the foundation are still being finalised with the WTF looking to officially establish it before the end of the year in the Olympic capital of Lausanne. 

At a meeting in Manchester on October 17, it was confirmed that pilot projects will take place in Jordan and Nepal next year before the scheme is rolled out farther afield.

WTF President Chungwon Choue chairing a meeting of the WTF Humanitarian Foundation in Manchester ©ITG
WTF President Chungwon Choue chairing a meeting of the WTF Humanitarian Foundation in Manchester ©ITG

"As of 2014, there were 19.5 million refugees in camps throughout the world," Choue has written in a special message to publicise the Foundation. "This figure does not include those interally displaced inside their own nations, nor those seeking asylum. According to the UN High Commission on Refugees, one in every 122 of our fellow humans is now a refugee, is internally displaced, or is seeking asylum.

"If this number were the population of a country, the UNHCR reports, it would be the world's 24th biggest nation. Most heartbreakingly, half of the world's refugees are children.

"It is time to act. The World Taekwondo Federation, which administers the Olympic sport globally, is doing just that. We are establishing the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation this year in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Its mandate is to deploy taekwondo coaches to refugee camps worldwide, bringing the benefits of fitness, sport, self-defence, self-belief, and self-respect to those who need it most. Taekwondo is an economical, easily deployed deliberable that can help raise the quality of life for refugees in camps worldwide, both children and adults.

"As an international federation of the IOC, the WTF is fulfilling its social responsibility. And our sport has precadents for helping people overcome adversity.

"Taekwondo was a core curriculum item in Korea, building a resilient national physique and a determined national attitude at a time when the devastated nation was birthing an 'economic miracle'. Now a globally popular Olympic sport, it will, in 2020, enter the Paralympics in Tokyo. And since 2008, the World Taekwondo Peace Corps has been dispatching coaches on missions to develop nations worldwide.

"I hope you will consider joining us and becoming one of the founding sponsors of this new NGO - one that is needed now, and will be needed more urgently than ever in the future."

WTF President Chungwon Choue addressing the United Nations ©WTF
WTF President Chungwon Choue addressing the United Nations ©WTF

Funding has already been provided by members of the WTF Council and staff, with national taekwondo assocations and other bodies also being invited to donate. 

But it is hoped that many other bodies will follow suit, with funding required over the next three years for:

  • The establishment and administration of the foundation.
  • The travel and living expences of coaching teams
  • The travel and living expences of visiting champions on motivational visits; and
  • uniforms, mate, protective gear and kicking pads for the refugee trainees.