General Choi Hong Hi, Original President of ITF
In 1965, Choi retired from the South Korean army as a two-star general (major general) and he was appointed as the country's first ambassador to Malaysia, by President Park. (Some claim Choi was not a general because you must be a four-star general be called a general. While it is true that that only a four-star has the rank of general, all generals [1, 2, 3, and 4 star] are commonly referred to as general. When a one-star rear admiral (lower half) is introduced, he or she is referred to as admiral. The same holds true for colonel or lieutenant colonel, commander or lieutenant commander, first lieutenant or second lieutenant, etc. A military person may correctly be referred to, for the rest of their life, by the last military rank at which they honorably served.)
Through Choi's efforts, Taekwondo spread through Malaysia and reached national acceptance when, in 1971, the art was demonstrated in the Merdeka Stadium at the request of Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rhaman. In 1965, Ambassador Choi was appointed by the Korean government to lead a goodwill mission to West Germany, Italy, Turkey, United-Arab Republic, Malaysia, and Singapore. This trip was significant in that for the first time in Korean history, it declared Taekwondo as the national martial art of Korea. Although Choi briefly returned to Korea to start an international branch of the KTA, he never gained much political influence in Korea.
On March 22, 1966, Choi formed the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) in Seoul, Korea, with the consent of nine countries. The federation established associations in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, West Germany, Turkey, Italy, Arab Republic of Egypt, Korea, and the United States. This was the first time that the headquarters of an international organization had been established in Korea. The ITF was formed as a private organization and was never the international arm of the KTA.
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