Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA)

Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), originally the Korea Taekwon-Do Association, is the first taekwondo organization. It was founded in 1959, although official South Korean sources give 1961 as its year of establishment. In 1966, some members of the KTA, led by H. H. Choi, formed the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF); other members founded Kukkiwon and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in the early 1970s. The KTA sits under the Korea Sports Council, is aligned with Kukkiwon, and is a Member National Association (MNA) of the WTF. Its goal is to promote the martial art taekwondo as a national sport within South Korea.

The Korea Taekwondo Association (한국 태권도 협회; 韓國 跆拳道 協會; KTA; sometimes called the Korean Taekwondo Association, and for a while known as the Korea Tae-Soo-Do Assocation) was founded originally in 1959. Historically its function was to unify the nine martial arts styles then practiced in Korea by the Nine Kwans. Currently it serves as the National Governing Body (NGB) for Olympic-style taekwondo in Korea.

Kwan Consolidation

With the establishmen of the Kukkiwon in the early 1970s, many of the style-defining functions of the KTA were taken-over by the Kukkiwon. The KTA continued to work, however, on kwan consolidation.

From 1945 to 1960, there were 40 kwan throughout Korea which were competing with one another, and this prevented Taekwondo from developing into a unified martial art. The KTA consolidated those 40 kwan into 9 kwan by 1974. At that time, there were about 3000 dojang (schools) under those 9 kwan, with more than 100,000 dan holders (yudanja).

The KTA attempted to eliminate the old concept of the Kwan in order to unify Taekwondo. Although there were objections to the elimination of the Kwan system, the KTA earnestly began seriously working towards that goal in beginning in 1974. On May 20, 1976, the KTA eliminated the names of the Kwans and replaced them with numbers. The following are the Kwan name and their number:

Note that the Moo Duk Kwan had members who were separated from their original group, and so different Moo Duk Kwan members could be found under either Kwan #4 (Moo Duk Kwan) or Kwan #10, which was designated as the Administrative Managing Kwan (Kwan Ri Kwan). 

The real efforts towards Kwan Unification began in 1977. The KTA hosted several meetings in 1976 and 1978 to unify the Kwans, and it was decided that the ten Kwans would be united by the end of July, 1978. 

Kim Chul Hui stated: "Let's unify all the Kwan in order to be one." However, other members objected to the suggestion, stating that unification at the present time was premature. However, it was decided which Kwan would participate with the unification and the list was submitted to Kim Un Yong. 

In addition, the Kwan Unification Committee (Choo Jin Eui Won Hwe) was created on February 23, 1977, composed of five members. The Committee members agreed in principle to give up the concept of Kwan in order to unify. In addition, the Chong Bon Kwan was created to eliminate all of the negative aspects of Taekwondo. The following people were members of the Chong Bon Kwan:

Kim Un Yong and Lee Chong Woo initiated the efforts to unify the Kwans right after the creation of the Chong Bon Kwan, but little was done. An office was set up at Eulchiro 6 Ga in Seoul, but the Committee did nothing since everyone thought that Kwan Unification was impossible. 

After six months the Chong Bon Kwan did recommend some Taekwondo students for dan promotion and also expanded the Committee's focus nationwide. However, the Chong Bon Kwan's efforts were not going well and it was difficult for the Committee to gather positive suggestions and ideas on this difficult subject. 

In July 1978, the Chong Bon Kwan announced that unification would take place in the southern provinces and rural areas first, to be followed by unification in the urban areas of Seoul and Kyungki Do. The Chong Bon Kwan also announced that Kwan Unification is not a problem. In addition, all Kwan Jang (Kwan Presidents) would be informed beforehand so that they could minimize the complications involved in unification. The Chong Bon Kwan's actions confirmed that the unification efforts would go forward. 

August 7, 1978, can be considered a historical date for Taekwondo because it was on this day that the Kwans finally compromised and closed the Kwan system with a Proclamation signed finalizing Kwan Unification. The following people signed the Proclamation on behalf of their Kwan:

  • Kwan #1: Chun Jung Woong (Song Moo Kwan)
  • Kwan #2: Lee Kyo Yoon (Han Moo Kwan)
  • Kwan #3: Lee Nam Suk (Chang Moo Kwan)
  • Kwan #4: Choi Nam Do (Moo Duk Kwan)
  • Kwan #5: Kwak Byung Oh (Oh Do Kwan)
  • Kwan #6: Lee Kum Hong (Kang Duk Won)
  • Kwan #7: Lee Yong Woo (Jung Do Kwan)
  • Kwan #8: Lee Chong Woo (Ji Do Kwan)
  • Kwan #9: Uhm Woon Kyu (Chung Do Kwan)
  • Kwan #10: Kim In Suk (Kwan Ri Kwan)

Lee Byung Ro and Kang Won Sik (both members of the Chong Bon Kwan) signed the Proclamation as well.

The following is what the Proclamation stated:

"Taekwondo will strive hard to unify and will eliminate the different Kwan of the last 30 years. Since 1972, we unified the Taekwondo terminology and poomsae in order to minimize the differences which existed between the different Kwan. With respect to Dan Promotion Tests, the Sabum in the individual dojang will recommend the candidates for rank advancement. We will do our duty to treat everyone as equals and to work towards a clean administrative procedural system. Because Taekwondo is our National Sport we promise to be good leaders and unify all Taekwondo-in throughout the nation. We will close all Kwan offices and the Chong Bon Kwan will instead coordinate with the Kukkiwon so that we can keep our administration clean. We promise to do our part to unify Taekwondo." 

The Proclamation was seen as a turning point because Taekwondo could now work earnestly towards a meaningful unification. 


The KTA's history has been marked by political difficulties. In 1959, H. H. Choi was the first President of the KTA and Byung Jik Ro (listed as "No" by Park, 1993) and Kae Byung Yun were the inaugural Vice-Presidents. When H. H. Choi was appointed as South Korea's ambassador to Malaysia in 1962, Myung Shin Choi became the second President of the KTA. In the early 1960s, the KTA was renamed as the Korea Taesoodo Association, and then to the current form in 1965.

During the 1960s, the KTA assembled the twelve original masters of taekwondo to promote taekwondo throughout the world. Choi headed a demonstration tour of 18 countries in 1965; this was one of many demonstration missions that eventually covered every continent. Choi again became President in 1965, but was forced to resign after a year, reportedly due to his unpopular authoritarian leadership style. He went on to establish the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) the following year. Ro of the Song Moo Kwan, who had been one of the KTA's inaugural Vice-Presidents, became the fourth President.

In 1967, Yong Chae Kim of the Kang Duk Kwan became the fifth President of the KTA. That same year, the KTA created new black belt forms, including Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Sipjin, Jitae, Cheongkwon, Hansu, and Ilyo. On 29 January 1971, Un Yong Kim became the sixth President of the KTA, and continued in the position in 1973. The KTA's leadership would remain stable for the next 20 years or so. In 1989, Chong Soo Hong from the Moo Duk Kwan was appointed Vice-President of the KTA.

The early 2000s were a time of trouble for the KTA leadership. One source states that Un Yong Kim resigned from the KTA presidency in 2001, while other sources state that in 1997, Pil Gon Rhee was already in place as President of the KTA. In any case, Kim presided over the organization for around 20 years. In March 2002, Cheon Seo Koo was elected President of the KTA, and apparently held that position until at least 2004, though news sources have reported that he was arrested in late 2003.

In early 2008, Jung Gil Kim was President of the KTA. On 11 June 2008, Joon Pyo Hong was elected as the 24th President of the KTA, and he continued in the position in 2009.

Rank Promotions

The first official KTA dan promotion test was held on 11 November 1962. The KTA continued awarding dan ranks for several years, but handed over direct dan promotion responsibilities to either the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in April 1976, according to a Black Belt magazine report or to Kukkiwon on 5 February 1980, according to historians Won Sik Kang and Kyong Myong Lee. Since then, however, some dan ranks have apparently still been awarded under the authority of the KTA (e.g., S. S. Lee's 9th dan from the Jidokwan, KTA, in 1993).