On the eve of the London 2012 Olympics, the Korea Herald assessed the prospects for a taekwondo team that, four years earlier in Beijing, had won gold in all four of the events it was entitled to enter.
"For South Korean taekwondo fighters, meeting expectations at the Olympics is always a tall order," the newspaper said. "Taekwondo is, after all, the country's traditional martial art. A medal of any colour other than gold is regarded as a disappointment.
"And disappointing was South Korea's performance at the 2011 World Championships, held on its home soil in Gyeongju, 370 kilometres south-east of Seoul. The host earned three gold medals, tied with Iran, and only one better than three other countries.
"Four athletes settled for silver. But the quartet of fighters entered at this year's Olympics said it will be a different story in London…"
As you might imagine, the reaction to South Korea's London 2012 results of one gold - as Hwang Kyung-seon retained her middleweight title - and one silver - cause for celebration for any other taekwondo nation - was extreme. The country thus finished only equal third with Turkey on the medals table, behind Spain and China.
Last summer in Rio that parlous state of affairs was rectified as the South Koreans returned to the top of the medals table with two golds and three bronzes, bolstering their position as the strongest Olympic nation with 19 medals, nine more than second-placed China.
Their predominance in the sport it developed and then introduced to the world in the 1950s continues - as does taekwondo's place in the Olympics, hard-earned over a period of 12 years before the first appearance as a medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Games.
As far as most Koreans are concerned, the natural order has been restored in timely fashion as their country is currently hosting the 2017 World Championships in Muju, which feature the largest number of participants in the sport's history - among them, Britain's double Olympic champion Jade Jones, who has yet to win a world title.
A total of 971 athletes from 183 countries are registered to fight at the newly named World Taekwondo's 23rd biennial World Championships, until June 30 in the popular Korean tourist resort. In addition, a refugee from Iran, who is now resident in The Netherlands, is competing as a one-person refugee team under the governing body's flag - a first for a World Taekwondo Championships.
Thus the sport has returned to its source.
Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by various martial artists who incorporated elements of Japanese karate and Chinese martial arts with indigenous Korean traditions that had been developed over the course of 2000 years.
Beginning in 1945, shortly after the end of the occupation of Korea by Japan, new martial arts schools, named kwans, were opened in Seoul. These schools were established by Korean martial artists who had studied primarily in Japan during the Japanese rule.
Each kwan practiced unique styles of martial art, and the new, compound form began to be adopted for use by the South Korean military forces then involved in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. This increased its popularity among civilian martial arts schools.
After witnessing a martial arts demonstration by the military in 1952, South Korean President Syngman Rhee urged that the martial arts styles of the kwans be merged. Beginning in 1955, the leaders of the kwans began discussing the possibility of creating a unified style of Korean martial arts, which became, in 1959, "taekwondo" - "the way of fist and foot". The name was officially adopted in 1965.
By that time it had gone truly global during the Vietnam War, when it was taught to Korean and South Vietnamese troops for physical conditioning and combat training. Many US troops stationed in Vietnam and Korea also learned taekwondo, then taught it when they returned to the US.
With the advent of protective gear, taekwondo morphed from a martial art into a combat sport, and, under the auspicies of the then-called World Taekwondo Federation, the first World Championships took place in Seoul in 1973, with 161 athletes from 16 nations competing.
Judo and taekwondo, the first two Asian martial arts to reach the Olympic Games, are both unarmed versions, but while judo is based on grappling, taekwondo is based on striking. What differentiates taekwondo from its cousins, karate and wushu, is its emphasis on high kicking, often involving a full aerial turn.
There has been widespread speculation about why this Korean martial art should place such emphasis on kicking. It has been pointed out that Koreans inhabit a mountainous peninsula and have a cultural habit of sitting on the floor, with the result that many of the population have strong and flexible legs.
There is also an opinion that the dramatic flourishes of the taekwondo arts correspond to something in the Korean soul itself - expressing the nation's spirit of emotion and passion.
"Taekwondo is well known as a combat sport, fighting with mostly kicking techniques," World Taekwondo's director general, Jinbang Yang, told insidethegames. "Martial arts specialised by kicking techniques or in more generally speaking leg action is not unusual in the Korean tradition of martial sports. A good example is ssireum, the Korean style of wrestling.
"This is something that suits the natural orientation of Korean people. Korean people enjoy highly acrobatic and dynamic movements of kicking action and put these features of movements into the core part of the sport of taekwondo."
The points-scoring system for taekwondo offers a tangible confirmation of this value system. A punch to the opponent's hogu, the bodyguard that functions as a scoring target, scores one point. Landing a kick there scores two points, or three if it involves a full spin. Punches to the head are illegal, but kicks to the head score three points, or four if they involve a full spin.
This system lends itself to dramatic and crowd-pleasing turns of events. There was an example at the very highest level at last year's Rio Olympics, where the men's heavyweight final was decided in the last second as the Cote d’Ivoire's Cheick Sallah Cisse, 4-2 down, landed a spinning hook kick that landed on the head of Britain's Lutalo Muhammad, earning him a maximum of four points and the gold medal.
As Yang points out, taekwondo's global popularity has been helped since the early 1970s by the way in which many of its signature techniques have been highlighted in the hugely popular films featuring martial arts with stars such as the late Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.
Films such as Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon popularised martial arts throughout the world. Although Lee's main training was in Wing Chun, he incorporated many elements from other martial arts.
Lee was reported to have met taekwondo master Jhoon Goo Rhee in 1964 and the two formed a friendship from which they both benefited. Rhee taught Lee the side kick, and Lee showed Rhee how to deliver what he termed the "non-telegraphic" punch.
Chan, who has established his films featuring martial arts with an often comic twist as a Hollywood staple, is trained in a variety of martial arts styles including judo, karate and taekwondo.
But it has taken more than the enthusiastic championing of taekwondo moves by movie stars to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow this martial art so dear to Korean hearts a full place in the Games.
South Korea took full advantage of their hosting of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul by putting on a seriously impressive sequence of taekwondo action as a demonstration sport, with part of it taking place during the Opening Ceremony.
"That was so impressive to many IOC members and world sports leaders," recalls Yang.
"Many millions saw the sport for the first time on TV - it made a huge impact."
The sport appeared again as a demonstration during the 1992 Barcelona Games. There were no demonstration sports at the 1996 Atlanta Games, but by then taekwondo knew it was in, having been adopted as an official sport of the 2000 Sydney Games at the 103rd IOC Session in Paris on September 4, 1994 - a historic date for a historically-rooted sport.
According to World Taekwondo, the sport "is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills.
"It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics".
Yang, who took up his current post in 2013 having worked previously with the Korean Taekwondo Federation, witnessed at first-hand the deep disappointment caused by the London 2012 results.
"It is very important for Koreans to have good results at the Olympics," he said. "But at the same time the Korean people understand that it is a result of the globalisation of taekwondo when other countries do well in Olympic Games.
"Since taekwondo became a part of the Olympic programme in 2000, naturally, many other countries have started to take it very seriously and to develop and invest in their own programmes.
"UK is a good example of this. Over the last five-to-six years they have developed a really strong programme with many talented athletes coming through, and they are getting good results.
"It is the same with China. They have also made a big investment and have made big advances. Koreans should be pleased with these developments, because it means taekwondo is being embraced by many countries. It means Korean athletes must strive for the highest standards - if not, they will lose."
The recent acceptance of a third Asian martial art, karate, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a similarly double-edged factor for the Koreans.
"It is definitely a threat in terms of competition," says Yang. "But we welcome the challenge.
"It will push us to work even harder to make taekwondo an even more attractive sport and to make further progress worldwide.
"Different sports have different stories, different principles and values. We believe sport should be healthy and safe and have a value other than fighting. Young people can participate in taekwondo and enjoy the fact that it has other values associated with it. This is why many kids have taken up taekwondo."
So does Professor Yang now feel taekwondo has a secure and permanent place at the Olympic top table?
"We worked very hard to adapt and improve our sport within the Olympics before the London 2012 Games by bringing in an electronic scoring system and video replays," he said.
"We worked really hard to make the sport more transparent. We made a great success in London in terms of transparency, and we have continued to make progress since.
"At the Rio Olympics we didn't have a single protest. And we know that many IOC members highly valued the changes we have made to the sport.
"After the Rio Olympics we have changed our competition rules to make the sport more active by putting more emphasis on attacking movement and initiative actions. Taekwondo matches with protectors and an electronic scoring system have been often at times criticised as too passive or boring.
"Many players favoured a too passive or defensive game style to secure winning. New rules are expected to motivate and even enforce players to be active and to take the initiative in the game."
An estimated 70 million people now practise taekwondo, making it one of the world's most popular participant sports. So how does Yang see the sport developing over the next 30 years?
"I prefer only to look at the next four-to-eight years of the Olympic cycle," he said. "But from this point we really want to make our sport more attractive and entertaining and to reach a larger TV audience.
"In Korea there are around 100,000 active taekwondo practitioners, of whom around 15,000 are serious athletes. Taekwondo is now practised in 208 countries, with five continental unions.
"But what we hope to do in the next few years is to increase the participation in key areas where we have already established the sport. There are huge numbers of taekwondo exponents in Asia, but we still need more development in Europe.
"That is one of the reasons why we set up a branch of our office in Lausanne the year after the Beijing Olympics. We are working hard to have more Championships and technical development in diverse countries. This is our big homework."
What would perhaps help taekwondo to take the next big step would be a worldwide celebrity figure - although such figures do not come along often, if ever. Someone with the technical verve of Lee, the loveability of Chan and the all-round charm and ability of Usain Bolt.
Who knows, it might even happen at the next Olympics...