South Korean taekwondo athletes staged a performance Sunday at the Taekwondo Hall in Pyongyang for the first time in 16 years. The North Korean audience warmly welcomed the South Korean taekwondo team, captivated by their demonstration of some difficult and high-flying techniques.
The entrance of Pyongyang Taekwondo Hall is crowded with North Koreans who came to see a performance by a South Korean taekwondo team. Roughly 2,300 seats were all occupied. High-level South and North Korean taekwondo officials gathered together, including Choe Hwi, chairman of the North's National Sports Guidance Committee and Kim Il-chul, head of the South Korean taekwondo team. A power-breaking demonstration began finally. South Korean athletes do somersaults and break pine tree boards into pieces, with their eyes covered. They easily break pine tree boards held at the height of three meters. The audience bursts into enthusiastic applause. The 50-minute demonstration ended with performances delivered to the Korean songs "Spring in My Hometown" and "Arirang."
[Soundbite] Lee Eui-seong(South Korean Taekwondo Team Captain) : "We did the performance excitedly and delightfully, as there were cheers and applause when we demonstrated a breaking technique and a dance performance."
However, differences between the South and North were revealed, as the North Korean audience hardly showed response with their stiff looks, despite efforts to induce applause when a taekwondo performance was presented with the beat of a South Korean idol boy group's song "Burning up." Both South and North Korea regard taekwondo as a national sport. Since their division, however, they have pursued different paths, as the South promotes taekwondo as an Olympic sport, while the North places greater stress on the martial art nature of taekwondo. It is the first time in 16 years a South Korean taekwondo team held a performance in North Korea in September 2002. The South Korean team expressed exp