Founder and past president of the International Tae Kwon Do Foundation (1918-2002)

General Choi Hong Hi died on June 15, 2002, in Pyongyang, North Korea. The (North) Korean Central Broadcasting network announced his death on June 17, 2002. The North Korean government buried General Choi in a State Funeral. His last wish was to die and be buried in Korea. According to a source close to General Choi, he did not think of Korea as two countries, but as one, his homeland. The General was 83 at the time of his death.

The world will remember General Choi as a patriot, a soldier, a visionary, and the “Father of Taekwon-Do.” His contribution to humanity will not be measured in monetary terms but in the values, morals and philosophy his martial art has instilled in the millions of its practitioners throughout the world. When asked if he ever regretted dedicating his life to Taekwon-Do, he stated: “I taught Taekwon-Do without regard to race, religion, nationality, or ideology. In this respect, I am the happiest man in the world, and I am proud to have left my footprint in this world.” His place in history is secure as he will live in the hearts and minds of all those who love Taekwon-Do.

General Choi is survived by his wife, son, Master Choi Jung Hwa, two daughters, and his grandchildren, all of Canada, and a sister-in-law and nephews in Pyongyang, North Korea.

1918   Born November 9, 1918 (Western calendar, December 22, 1918) in Kilju, in the rugged and harsh area of Hwa Dae, Myong Chun District, NK
1930   Expelled from school for agitating against Japanese authorities who controlled Korea. This was the beginning of General Choi’s involvement with the Kwang Ju Students’ Independence Movement. Studied calligraphy with Han Il Dong and learned Tae Kyon
1937   Sent to Japan to continue eductation.
1938   Earned first dan black belt in Karate. Taught at the Tokyo YMCA
1943   Conscripted unwillingly into the Japanese Army to fight in WWII
1944   Implicated as planner of the Korean Students’ Independence Movement. Placed on trial and found guilty. Sentenced to seven years in prison; later sentence changed to death for the crime of treason.
1945   Three days before his execution, Korea liberated and he was released. During his eight months of incarceration, he began to develop new techniques and train fellow prisoners in his evolving art.
1946   One of the 110 Koreans who formed the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) Rank: Second Lieutenant
1947   Promoted to Captain and then Major in the ROK
1948   Posted to ROC Head of Logistics and became martial art instructor for US Military Police, Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel
1948   1949 Promoted to full Colonel. First visit to U. S. and introduced his martial art to America at Fort Riley
1950   Promoted to Brigadier General
1953   Wrote first authoritative book on military intelligence in Korea. Organized 29th “FIST” Infantry spearheading TKD in the military
1954   Established the Oh Do Kwan with the help of Nam Tae Hi. Developed his own martial art system, Promoted to Major General
1955   Taekwon-Do named and recognized as a formal Korean martial art
1959   Toured the Far East with TKD demonstration team to introduce his art, Elected President of the newly formed Korea Taekwon-Do Association, Published first TKD text
1960   Took military course in Texas. While there, he visited Jhoon Rhee’s Karate Club where he convinced the instructor and students to use the term Taekwon-Do. Marked beginning of TKD in the U.S. Assigned to command largest ROC Training Ctr. in Korea and newly assigned 6th Army Corps
1961   TKD introduced into the curriculum at West Point. Promoted TKD as a compulsory subject for all S. K. armed and police forces
1962   Appointed Ambassador to Malaysia, TKD Demonstration at the United Nations in New York City. TKD grows in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
1963   TKD introduced to Vietnam when Gen. Choi demonstrates perfected forms to instructors. The new forms eliminated the remaining vestiges of Karate in the Art. Re-elected President of Korea Taekwon-Do Association
1965   Ambassador Choi, retired two-star general, appointed by Korean Government to lead a goodwill mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore and to introduce TKD as the national martial art of Korea.
1966   International Taekwon-Do Federation formed March 22. Charter members included Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, Turkey, Italy, the Arab Republic, the United States, and Korea.
1967   Received First Class Distinguished Service Medal from Vietnam and helped form Korea-Vietnam TKD Foundation. Visited Hong Kong and the U. S.
1968   Attended Sports Military Symposium in Paris as Korean delegate. Also visited Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, India
1969   Toured Southeast Asia for preparation of First Asian TKD Tournaments. Toured 29 countries to spread TKD and collect material for his book
1970   Toured 20 countries throughout SE Asia, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East.
1971   Visited Malaysia and selected TKD instructors to be sent to train Rep. Of Iran Armed Forces
1972   World tour to introduce TKD to heads of states of Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guatemala. Moved ITF headquarters to Toronto, Canada, to facilitate the spread of TKD to Eastern Europe
1973   Led ITF Demonstration Team to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East (more than 100,000 attended in Egypt alone).
1974   First World TKD Championships in Montreal. Led top instructor demo team to Jamaica, Curacao, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, and Surinam.
1975   TKD demonstrated at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Visits Greece and Sweden to conduct seminars
1976   Visits Holland to open the First European TKD Championships
1977   Visits Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden and Denmark to help form national organizations
1978   Visits Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya and South Africa, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the U. S.
1979   Visits Sweden, Denmark, West Germany, France, Greenland and Argentina
1980   First visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to introduce Taekwon-Do to North Korea
1981   Visits Australia and Japan. Presents a united North and South Korean Taekwon-Do team in Vienna, Austria
1982   Taekwon-Do dojang opens in Japan, a monumental point in the General’s life.
1983   Visits Argentina, Columbia, Panama, Honduras, the United States, Yugoslavia, and Italy
1984   Visits Scotland, North Korea and Hungary where the first large-scale TKD competition was held in a socialist country
1985   Publication of Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do by General Choi. 30th Anniversary of the beginning of TKD.
1986   Visits China. Visit inspires Chinese to study TKD
1987   Visits Greece with 5th Worlds.
1988   World Championships televised via satellite throughout Europe. TKD introduced to Russia
1989   Published condensed version of TKD Encyclopaedia.
1990   Visits Uzbekistan, Russia, Vietnam, and China
1991   Lectures at Lenin Central University in Russia. TKD adopted as a four-year credit course at the University
1992   Received honorary Doctorate from Lenin Central Unv. Encyclopaedia Britannica references General Choi as the “principal founder of Taekwon-Do.
1993   Visits Moscow and Uzbekistan
1994   Visits the Ukraine
1995   Visits Tajikistan and meets with instructors from Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, Moldova, and Russia
1996   First Conference of TKD in Toronto
1997   Visits Russia for Tenth Worlds
1998   Visits Cambodia to teach TKD courses in Phnom Pen.
1999   Continued to promote TKD throughout the world through seminars, instructor courses and promotions.
2002   Worked with DPR Korea to create a TKD sanctuary for all practitioners of TKD to visit and to train (ground broken March 24, 2002)

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