The institutionalization of taekwondo in South Korea




Martial arts, combat sports, taekwondo, institutionalization, physical education, military, higher education, career


Taekwondo, designated as the official ‘national sport of the Republic of Korea,’ has been a source of pride and a point of reference for the Korean people. A great variety of academic articles and books have been published over the last decades about the general historical formation of taekwondo; however, the topic of taekwondo’s institutionalization in South Korea has been largely neglected or ignored. At some point in their lives, almost every South Korean, particularly within the male population when they enter military service, undergoes some form of taekwondo training. No other country in the world integrates martial arts in such a wide-ranging manner. Hence, this article aims to explain the broad integration of taekwondo into the public and higher education system and the military of South Korea. Subsequently, this study details taekwondo as a career opportunity in South Korea, which is highly unique among nations. Lastly, this article focuses on the broadening and specialization of taekwondo activities with the spread and popularization of ‘demonstration’ and ‘forms’ taekwondo. In summary, this article aims to explore these phenomena and contribute new insights to the field of Taekwondo Studies.


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Author Biographies

Hyun Min Choi, Department of Taekwondo, Youngsan University

Hyun Min Choi (PhD) (South Korea) is an assistant professor at Youngsan University. He researches in the fields of martial arts, taekwondo, and sports. He coached the Afghan taekwondo national team at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and the Thai taekwondo national team at the London Olympics (2012). He specializes in sports sociology and is a training expert. He previously worked at the Kukkiwon Research Institute and the World Taekwondo Federation. E-mail:

Udo Moenig, Youngsan University

Udo Moenig (PhD) (South Korea) is full professor at the Department of Taekwondo, Youngsan University, in South Korea. He earned a PhD in Physical Education from Keimyung University. He was appointed as the first foreigner to teach taekwondo at a Korean university in 2005. He researches in the fields of Asian Studies with a focus on martial arts related issues, such as history, philosophy, and the technical aspects of martial arts. He has practical experience in taekwondo and other martial arts for over forty years. E-mail:

Chatchai Choi , Department of Sports Science, Kasetsart University

Chatchai Choi (PhD) (Thailand) is a professor at the Department of Sports Science, Kasetsart University, in Thailand. He researches in the field of taekwondo. Moreover, he has also been the Head Coach of the Thailand Taekwondo National Team since 2002 until present. Under his leadership, the Thailand Taekwondo National Team won 5 Olympic medals. E-mail:


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How to Cite

Choi, H. M., Moenig, U., & Choi , C. (2024). The institutionalization of taekwondo in South Korea. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 19(1), 39–54.