These numbers mean first of all only a date – which lies now 20 years back – which was and is of enormous meaning for Taekwon-Do. On this day, General Choi, Hong-Hi passed away, the founder of Taekwon-Do, a martial art that has no equal worldwide.
His lifelong efforts were aimed at developing a martial art that is not only characterized by physical training, but also by moral principles (Tenets of Taekwon-Do) and that should be the basis for a good and moral society (“Taekwon-Do a Way of Life”). Our task as members of the ITF family is to preserve his legacy and pass it on to the next generations – unadulterated, the way General Choi wanted it to be!
One of our members who was one of General Choi’s closest confidants for more than twenty years and visited him in hospital the day before his death is our Honorable Grand Master Thomas MacCallum (at that time ITF Secretray General). Below, he describes for us once again in retrospect the situation as he experienced it at that time.
GM Paul Weiler
At this time of the 20th anniversary of the death of Gen. Choi Hong Hi, I am reminded of my visit to a hospital room in Pyongyang in June 2002 along with (as written by DPR Korea) Mr. Rhee Ki Ha (Grand Master and Vice President), Mr. Leong Wai Meng (Master and Chairman of the Consultative Committee), Mr. Hwang Kwang Sung (Grand Master, Spokesman and Special Aide to Gen. Choi), Mr. Park Jong Soo (Grand Master and member of the Consultative Committee), Mr. Hwang Jin (Master and member of the Consultative Committee), Mr. Hwang Bong Yong (Chairman of the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee), Mr. Jong Jae Hun (Secretary General of the International Martial Art Games Committee), and Mr. Ra Bong Man (Secretary General of the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee). Why was Mr. Chang Un not included?
It was an overwhelming experience entering that room. We all realised that we were saying goodbye to the Father of Taekwon-Do. I was aware that there were only two people present who were not Korean. And how many others wished to be there to pay their respects to such a great man in so humble surroundings.
Gen. Choi mentioned everyone by name and said something about them. For myself he said “I love Tom MacCallum. I have always worried if he might die before me. In case he dies first I have been thinking how to help his family. He has given the special contributions to the ITF. I have no secrets to him. Thank you very much for what you have done. I love you.” This was an enormous surprise and made me feel so humble before my seniors. That is part of the reason I devote my life to Taekwon-Do and the ITF.HGM Thomas MacCallum
Thank you HGM Thomas MacCallum for your memories regarding the passing of our founder. We are so lucky to have you and the rest of the Grandmasters as mentors and guides on our continued journey through life and the practice of Taekwon-Do.
Master Scott Downey, VIII