For decades, political and cultural differences have caused much unrest between the two major Taekwondo organizations, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF).
General Choi Hong Hi of Seoul, South Korea is considered by many as the "Father of Taekwondo" and was also the President of the Korean Taekwondo Association. Choi held the vision to share his art, not only with the South Koreans, but with the entire world, including rival, North Korea.
In his attempt to carry out this vision, he would visit North Korea, yet would later resign as KTA President and on March 22nd of 1966, General Choi Hong Hi founded the International Taekwon-Do Federation and remained its President until his death in 2002 at the age of 83.
On May 28th, 1973, the World Taekwondo Federation was established during a meeting at the Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarters. The WTF is the International Federation governing the official Olympic sport of Taekwondo. Many believe that the WTF was founded due to the fact that the South Korean government ended all association with the ITF.
Through various political and cultural clashes throughout the years, rivalry and indifferences have continued to separate the organizations, thus leading to a splitting of the future growth of sport Taekwondo as becoming a "one art" for all to share and participate.
Recently, the world of Taekwondo witnessed an historical event: the signing of a memorandum between the WTF and ITF, aimed at opening talks and participation between both parties, all focused toward benefiting the sport of Taekwondo. WTF President Chungwon Choue and ITF President Ung Chang signed the memorandum in a ceremony in Nanjing, China during the Youth Olympic Games.
The greatest impact that the agreement will achieve, is that all athletes, regardless of South Korean based, WTF or North Korean led, ITF affiliation, will be allowed to compete in each organization's competitions, including the Olympic Games; a milestone breakthrough for North Korean athletes.
Through the many years of rivalry, many practitioners never believed that any kind of "coming together" would ever occur between the two organizations. Many would still like to see a merger of the two, bringing Taekwondo together as "one art," and not separated by "styles." Although unlikely to ever happen, WTF President Chungwon Choue followed through on a statement he made in 2013, saying:
"While it is unlikely that the two organizations could merge, it is possible for athletic exchange to take place between them."
On August 21, 2014, history was made for Taekwondo athletes from around the globe.