Phnom Penh to host Asian taekwondo festival

Cambodia has been given the hosting rights for the annual Asia Kukkiwon Taekwondo Festival in the first week of December this year by the Seoul-based World Taekwondo Headquarters, the sport’s official governing body established by the South Korean government.

The three-day Kukkiwon Taekwondo Hanmadang 2017, open to competitors in the age band of 12 to under 59, will be held from December 1-3 in Phnom Penh, marking the Korean martial art’s spectacular growth in the Kingdom over the past few years on the back of Sorn Seavmey’s Asian Games Gold medal and Rio Olympic qualification on top of her recent SEA Games gold in Kuala Lumpur.

Nepal staged the festival last year and after Cambodia the event will move to Thailand in 2018.

The country’s longest serving national coach Choi Yong Sok, a South Korean who has made Phnom Penh his home for the past two decades mentoring hundreds of taekwondo aspirants including Seavmey and her elder sister Davin, told a news conference at the weekend that it was a great honour for Cambodia to host this prestigious festival.

“Despite the festival look, the competition will be fierce and it would be a great opportunity for our young fighters to mix with and compete against some of the best from the Asian continent,” the Korean coach said.

The vice president of the Cambodian Taekwondo Federation, Chrin Sothea, said official invitations had been sent to 48 countries and around 5,000 fighters were likely to take part, with every athlete given the right to participate in two events.

“As hosts, we are planning to field up to 1,000 of our takewondo practitioners,” Sothea said.

Competitions will be held in 66 categories – 45 individual and 21 team events. There will also be several demonstration events.

The festival will be supported by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Cambodia.