On January 17, 1971, Dr. Un Yong Kim (a shrewd businessman, not a martial arts master), who was serving as Deputy Chief of the Presidential Protective Forces, was elected president of the KTA. He was an academic scholar with graduate degrees from Korea and the United States and a seasoned former diplomat with excellent people skills who had strong political ties both domestic and abroad. He had been instrumental in organizing the building of an advanced Taekwondo training establishment in Seoul, Korea. On March 20, 1971, Korean President Park Chung Hee declared Taekwondo the national sport of Korea and allocated funds to build the "Kukkiwon," which would serve as the central gymnasium and world headquarters for Taekwondo.
Construction began in 1971 and it was completed on November 30, 1972. Feeling that Korea was the mother country of Taekwondo and that the world headquarters should be located there, he dissolved the ITF's connection with KTA and on May 28, 1973 created a new international body called the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The Kukkiwon became known as the "mecca of world Taekwondo." On May 25-27, 1973, the first biennial World Taekwondo Championship was held at the Kukkiwon, with the participation of 19 countries. The success of this event proved that Taekwondo had been internationally recognized as a valid sport as well as being an extremely effective method of self-defense. The event started Taekwondo toward becoming a world sport.
During the meet, several KTA leaders including Chong Woo Lee, Won Kyu Um, and Nam Suk Lee called for establishment of a worldwide Taekwondo organization to help get Taekwondo into the Olympics. Representatives of the participating countries at the meet formed a new, worldwide organization to promote Taekwondo on an international level, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). They elected Dr. Un Yong Kim as president and the WTF absorbed the KTA.
eneral Choi was not included in this meeting. In 1972, before the completion of the Kukkiwon and before the formation of the WTF, General Choi had left Korea and moved his ITF to Canada.
One of the first things Un Yong Kim did as president of the WTF was to dissolve the WTF connection with Choi Hong Hi. Since then, all Taekwondo activities outside of Korea have been coordinated by the WTF, the only official organization recognized by the Korean government as the international regulating body for Taekwondo. Kim was instrumental in changing the direction of Taekwondo in the WTF from a martial art to a martial sport. He is also one of Korea's representatives to the International Olympic Committee.
The World Taekwondo Federation is made up of Taekwondo national governing bodies (NGBs). The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) is the NGB for Taekwondo in the Republic of Korea. The United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) is the NGB for Taekwondo in the United States. Individuals may be affiliated with the WTF through their NGB, but individuals cannot join the WTF directly.
On January 8, 1977, nine of the largest kwans (Chung-do-kwan, Ji-do-kwan, Moo-duk-kwan, Chang-moo-kwan, Song-moo-kwan, Han-moo-kwan, Oh-do-kwan, Jung-do-kwan, and Kang-duk-won) recognized the Kukkiwon as the sole black belt promotional body for Taekwondo. Before this declaration, most practitioners valued their individual kwan certification more so than "official" certificates issued by the Kukkiwon or the KTA. By recognizing the Kukkiwon's ultimate promotional authority in Korea, the kwan heads voluntarily gave up much of their power and prestige. Also in 1977, the WTF replaced kwan names with serial numbers. The kwan serial numbers are as follows: (1) Song-moo-kwan, (2) Han-moo-kwan, (3) Chang-moo-kwan, (4) Moo-duk-kwan, (5) O-do-kwan, (6) Kang-du-kwan, (7) Jung-do-kwan, (8) Ji-do-kwan, and (9) Chung-do-kwan.
Taekwondo is now one of the national sports of Korea and is included in all school grades and as a requisite for military training. It has become so much a sport in Korea that the WTF now comes under the control of the Korean Athletics Association and not the martial arts body, the ki-do-hae.
In 2004, after years of corruption in the WTF, President Kim resigned, so the WTF elected Chungwon Choue as president.
Since the formation of the WTF as a rival to the ITF, Taekwondo has not been a unified sport. Since the WTF headquarters is located in Korea, Korea has given its support the development of WTF Taekwondo. In the 1980's struggle to determine who would govern Olympic Taekwondo, the WTF won.
Taekwondo has evolved into two basic types, one is the traditional martial art promoted by the ITF, and the other is a progressive martial sport promoted by the WTF with Olympic competition as its primary goal. When Jigaro Kano took aspects of Jujitsu and created a safer sport form of the martial art, he used the name "Judo" to describe his new sport. However, Taekwondo has not adopted any name changes to differentiate between its two types; however, the sport type prefers to use the single word Taekwondo, while the traditional art type prefers to use the separate words Tae-Kwon-Do.