Dankook University (DKU) has produced many world-class athletes, including Kim Ye-rim and Park Jee-won who are currently national team athletes in the sport of Taekwondo. Kim Jae-won, a student in the Dept. of International Sports Studies, was selected for the Korea National Taekwondo Demo Team (KNTDT) located at the World Taekwondo Headquarters (WTH) for his brilliant athletic ability. Taekwondo is traditional Korean martial art that has gained international recognition, and in 2000, World Taekwondo, a more global version, was adopted as an Olympic sport. The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Kim Jae-won earlier this month to find out more about his journey to be selected as a representative for our country.
The KNTDT promotes Taekwondo to foreigners, trains taekwondo athletes, and performs demonstrations in over 14 countries every year. The WTH organizes the KNTDT and hosts the annual ‘World Taekwondo Hanmadang’, promoting the sport around the globe. The show includes demonstrations of kicks smashing pine boards, Poomsae (a pattern of regulation attack and defense forms), self-defense, and much more. These events are a great success and significantly increase the visibility of Taekwondo around the world.
|▲ Picture of the Korea National Taekwondo Demo Team in the World Taekwondo Hanmadang (Photo from the World Taekwondo Headquarters)|
The WTH holds auditions every year for their national demonstration team, and the most recent recruitment campaign was held in February. Kim, a former Taekwondo athlete in high school and current student at DKU on the university Taekwondo team decided to try out. He has a proven track record in the sport. At the 49th Korea Taekwondo Association competition, Kim Jae-won won 2nd prize in both the team match and Taekwondo gymnastics. He also took second place in the vertical axis rotation and smashing kick competition at the Korean Women's Association’s 20th Taekwondo competition. He prepared for this audition during his winter vacation by focusing on his kicking techniques and avoiding injury. Thanks to his excellent skills, regular weight training, and workouts, he successfully secured a spot on the team.
On April 9, the Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Kim Jae-won. We wanted to conduct the interview face-to-face; however, his busy training schedule made it impossible to arrange, so we chatted instead online. We opened the interview by congratulating him on his selection for the KNTDT. His response was surprising for an athlete of his caliber. He said he is happy to be selected, but at the same time nervous about being a member of such a prestigious and world-class team. It was amazing to learn that even after years of training and a proven track record, he still does not think he is good enough. He began practicing martial arts at seven but was not initially interested in the sport. In high school, he never had fun practicing the Poomsae, but after entering university, many coaches and senior athletes recognized his innate talent and encouraged him to try out for the demonstration team. Kim’s specialty is his three-time 540-degree kick. He demonstrated this kick at the WTH audition and made the team. Despite his unique skills, he remains insecure about his abilities in the sport. Since he joined the KNTDT later than the rest of his team, he feels he needs to work harder than the rest to reach their level. He regularly watches videos posted on social media.
We asked what the difference was between the national Taekwondo team and the KNTDT. He said, “There is no big difference between us; however, the KNTDT is much more challenging and has a different purpose. The WTH selects members through an annual audition, evaluating a participant’s physical fitness and kicks.” He added, “It was hard to pass the first physical test, and you need to pass it to progress to the next level.” Also, the main purpose of this team is to promote the sport of Taekwondo overseas.
|▲ Kim Jae-won (Photo from Kim Jae-won)|
Kim credits his ability to control his mental state under pressure for his success. Unlike other competitions, he has faced, and due to the tough physical test he knew was ahead of him, he focused a lot on his mental preparedness. When he trained the Poomsae regularly to get accepted into university he thought, ‘Is this the only way I can get in?” He even lost interest in training. However, since seeing so much success, he has not regretted it once. He said even when he faced bouts of self-doubt, he pushed through and never regretted it. His new goal is to successfully promote Taekwondo overseas. Lastly, he encouraged Dankookians (Students of DKU), who hoped to join the KNTDT to work hard and follow their dreams. He also hoped Dankookians would show more interest in his team’s various Taekwondo performances at school events.
Kim’s strong passion and effort in Taekwondo were evident. He has had clear goals and achieved all of them while remaining humble about his abilities. Because of his success, we learned more about the many talented people at the KNTDT. Kim Jae-won is a gifted Taekwondo athlete and the DKH will continue to follow his career and celebrate all the success that lies ahead.
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