If one looks up “sports diplomacy” and Korea, the immediate results returned are overwhelmingly about T’aegwŏndo and inter-Korean relations. What is more difficult to find however, despite being demonstrably more politically consequential, is Korea`s strategic utilization and spread of Korean or Koreanesque martial arts such as T’aegwŏndo, hapkido, and kumdo, in targeted countries beyond the East Asian region. Similar to the diffusion of Japanese martial arts to the West, Korean martial arts from the 1960s and 70s have acted as a cultural ambassador from Eurasia to the Americas and elsewhere. In particular, with the advent of T’aegwŏndo as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Olympics, and as an official event since the Sydney Olympiad in 2000, the sport`s popularity has expanded. This study argues and provides evidence to the fact, that the spread of specifically T’aegwŏndo has been carried out as part of a larger government sponsored soft-power program and has proven especially politically profitable in terms of increasing the profile of the Republic of Korea.
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