North Korean IOC member stresses importance of sports exchanges with South Korea


The two Koreas should keep promoting sports exchanges even as they remain at odds politically, a senior Pyongyang sports official said.

Chang Ung, the lone North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told Yonhap News Agency in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that politics and sports should remain separated.

“Just because there haven’t been many exchanges (between the Koreas), it doesn’t mean we should also halt sports exchanges,”

Chang said on the sidelines of the 128th IOC Session at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

In mid-July, Voice of America reported that Chang, head of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), was scheduled to visit South Korea on Oct. 6 with other taekwondo officials.

Chang said the report, which quoted a U.S.-based taekwondo magazine, was blown out of proportions. Chang added that while he doesn’t yet have specific plans to visit South Korea, it is “not a bad idea” to make a cross-border trip.

Last August, the ITF and the Seoul-based World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) reached a breakthrough agreement to allow North Korean athletes to take part in the martial art at Summer Olympics.

Currently, the WTF, led by South Korean Choue Chung-won, is the only global taekwondo body sanctioned by the IOC, and only the athletes of countries recognized by the WTF are allowed to compete in the Olympics. The ITF, which is not recognized by the IOC, had been unable to compete in the Olympics. Yet under the agreement, athletes registered to the WTF and ITF will be free to compete in each other’s competitions under the rules of each organization.

Choue and Chang first began their talks on the agreement in September 2013. Chang said the ITF has remained in close coordination with the WTF, saying, “We should honor the terms of our agreement.”

Both Chang and Choue are in Kuala Lumpur. Choue isn’t an IOC member but is here as the leader of an international sport governing body.

Chang said he hasn’t had an opportunity to speak to Choue at length because of scheduling conflicts. (Yonhap)

The Korea Herald

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