Update : Saturday, February 24, 2018
Do-jin Kim, Contribution to East African Peace through Taekwondo“I will not return until peace is achieved!”

Do-jin Kim, a Kukkiwon Dispatched Master to Ethiopia, endures the poor conditions in Africa for the development of taekwondo out of his passion for teaching taekwondo.

He applied for the Kukkiwon’s oversea dispatch progam to Ethiopia in 2015 after reminiscing his younger days when he went to Ukraine under the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s program.

At the end of 2015, he was headed to Ethiopia after placing a hundred fifty-one boxes of personal belongings in a shipping container upon receiving the final acceptance into the program. His passion was burning like the African desert.

But the internal conflict that returned after 26 years in Ethiopia did not easily welcome him with open arms. The situation worsened when the Ethiopians had mistaken all Asians as Chinese who had been negligent and exploiting for them. Such emotions were passed onto the Koreans.

Master Kim, who had migrated to Ethiopia to help, had to receive poor treatment at times. Unlike an average person, he returned the discrimination with Korean warmheartedness, and melted the hearts and minds that were frozen by cultural differences and misunderstandings. He showed them a new martial art called “Taekwondo.”

But torment waited for him around the corner. He mentioned some painful memories from getting typhoid fever after eating some native food. This sudden attack of an unwelcome disease had led to his weight loss in 15 kilograms.

For him who had overcome the difficulties, there was his wife. She was also a participant of the same program. They met in Korea through a meeting for program participants, who had been dispatched to Ukraine. In 2011, Master Kim married his wife at the age of 39. “My wife would make me some Korean food out of scarce ingredients,” he said in expressing his gratitude.

Master Kim found it especially fruitful to teach taekwondo to Ethiopians as they had been the first ones to help as the Allies in the Korean War. “We are unfamiliar with Ethiopia. But it had sent its troops to fight for us in the Korean War. Then soldiers are now grandfathers. These old men still sing Arirang (Korean traditional song) and show taekwondo kicks. Teaching their children taekwondo had been like paying back the old debt out of gratitude,” said he.

As dispatched in request by the Ethiopian government, Master Kim is responsible for Dan promotion, training of the junior national team and education seminars. After two years of residence, he pointed out that there is a serious economic gap in Ethiopia. He emphasized that capital’s slums and countryside do not even have facilities and supplies for education.

Through his first-hand experience in Ethiopia, he has come to reach farther beyond taekwondo as sport. He wanted to teach the spirituality of taekwondo more than just teaching the kyorugi techniques. “I wish to help Ethiopia form a peaceful society through social order that is achieved through the martial art. It is about character building through poomsae,” said the Master.

Having various ethnicities and religions in the country, Ethiopians had been curious about every aspect of Master Do-jin Kim. When a man once asked the Master, he replied, “my religion is taekwondo.”

He showed his strong will and passion when he said, “I will not return to Korea until I find Ethiopia achieve peace as a large family through taekwondo.”

John Ahn  jh.ahn@srhnc.net

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