Korea, the best of the best !
To become a member of the Korean national team is already a success for champions of the « calm morning country ». Founder of the « way of kicking and punching », Korea registers 4 millions of practising people. Taekwondo is compulsory at school and championships are legion. From the school, university, military and professional competitions, only the best can attend to the national team. Only attend because the trials which follow are like mini world championships.
Korea logically ranks 1st in the world nations ranking. At World championships (since 1973), thanks to its 364 medals (258 gold, 54 silver, 52 bronze), it gets ahead of Spain and Turkey. At Olympic Games, it also leads with 18 medals (13, 3, 2), ahead of China and Taiwan.
Considering the level and the huge pool, rare are athletes who last in the national team. Some achieved to do it. The 1st big champion in modern Taekwondo history is named Jeong Kuk-Hyeon, 4 times world champion (1982, 1983, 1985, 1987). For a long time recordman of golds, he was exceeded in 2009 by US Steven Lopez (5 titles) and, the same year, catch up by his fellow countryman Choi Yeon-Ho, crowned in 2001, 2003, 2007 et 2009. Yang Dae Seung (1987, 1989, 1991) and Kim Je Gyoung (1993, 1995, 1997), thanks to their 3 world titles, complete a historical Top 5 that only Kim Tae-Hun, double running world champion, can integrate.
But none of them succeeded in becoming Olympic champion. The only one who doubled the two most prestigious gold medals is Moon Dae-Sung (world champion in 1999, Olympic champion in 2004).
But the gold palm of Korean Taekwondo may certainly go to Miss Hwang Kyung Seon, 3 times world champion (2005, 2007, 2011) and 2 times Olympic champion (2008, 2012). In Korean’s athletes Pantheon, we must not forget Yeon Ji Kim, 3 times gold medal in a World championship in 2001, 2003 and 2005.