Is Taekwondo Popular in Korea?

As you already know, Taekwondo is one of the world’s most widely practiced sports, with 80 million practitioners training under 206 national federations. But does this Korean art enjoy the same level of recognition and acceptance back in its home of origin? Is taekwondo popular in Korea?

Yes, taekwondo is very popular in Korea and it is the most popular martial art in the country. Taekwondo is South Korea’s national sport and it is practiced by both kids and adults. However, the art is more popular among kids than adults.

Probably the most easily accessible sport for Korean children is taekwondo, classes specializing in the martial art can easily be found anywhere in Korea.

If there isn’t a taekwondo studio around an elementary school, it feels like something is missing.

It is also no surprise that Korea wins a lot of gold medals at the Olympics for the sport.

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Is Taekwondo Common in Korea?

Yes, taekwondo is the most common martial art style in Korea and it also enjoys the privilege of being the national sport in the country.

In most schools in Korea Tae Kwon Do is a mandatory class like PE is in America. Students usually train for at least an hour a day during their regular school day even if they do not train in a Dojang after school.

While in the past it was hard to find a Korean male that did not at least know some rudimentary Tae Kwon Do, now in Korea the same can be said for the girls as well as the boys.

As Korea has become more egalitarian between the sexes it is now training its girls alongside its boys and many all-girls boarding schools have some of the best Tae Kwon Do teams in the country.

For those who do not become proficient in elementary and grade school the males will receive advanced Tae Kwon Do training during their compulsory military training when they complete high school.

The Korean military places great emphasis on martial arts and Tae Kwon Do in particular.

While the role of martial arts in Korea, and Tae Kwon Do in particular is for the most part no longer about day-to-day personal safety, it very much is still woven throughout the fabric of Korean Society.

One needs to just stroll through any green space in the City of Seoul on any given day to see the art being practiced still by young and old.

Note, however, that while taekwondo is commonly practiced in Korea and taken to a very high level, it is largely seen as a kids’ pastime.

When I would tell coworkers and Korean friends I was training in Taekwondo while teaching in Seoul, I got some VERY strange looks.

Even stranger when I tried to explain that I was not doing kukkiwon taekwondo.

For many, it’s energy-burning daycare and most of the Korean adults who train are either in the military, studying taekwondo or martial arts as a degree, or are hoping to run their own dojang.

Overall, it is the premier sport in a country that is crazy about its sports.

Koreans take great pride in their national sport which is now practiced in 188 countries worldwide but truly revered in its homeland.

As baseball is to America, Tae Kwon Do is to Korea – inextricably woven together through sport, culture, and history.

Is Taekwondo Popular in South Korea

Taekwondo is very popular in South Korea and is considered the national sport of the country.

It is largely practiced by people of all ages, especially the kids.

Why Is Taekwondo So Popular in South Korea?

It is a National sport

A national sport is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation.

Some sports are de facto (not established by law) national sports, such as sumo in Japan, while others are de jure (established by law) national sports, such as taekwondo in South Korea.

With taekwondo being the national sport, it’s natural and normal to have it gain natural penetration among Koreans.

To curb bullying in kids

To curb bullying, many parents will enroll their children in the local taekwondo dojang.

This is especially true if both parents work outside the home, so taekwondo is a good after-school activity.

It is cheaper and more accessible

Let’s face it; a taekwondo studio is a cheaper alternative to other after-school facilities.

Generally, the more accessible and popular a service is the lesser it would cost.

Helping parents with childcare

This centuries-old sport adapts to the call of the times, filling the childcare void.

From school pickup and drop-off and supervised homework time to Hula-Hoop practice for gym class, taekwondo academies are playing an expanded role in South Korea.

On top of martial arts lessons, the centers – a sure-fire find near practically any elementary school in South Korea – provide much-needed help to two-paycheck couples struggling to juggle work and child-rearing responsibilities.

Parents wanted places and people they can entrust the care of their children to and they appear to have found taekwondo as the solution.

Do All Koreans Learn Tae Kwon Do?

Not all Korean practice taekwondo but a significant number of them do (especially the males) at one point in their lives, either at elementary school, high school, or in the military.

Also, remember that there are other Korean martial arts styles like hapkido and taekkyon competing for a share of the market.

How Many People Practice Taekwondo in Korea?

In Korea, there are around 100,000 active taekwondo practitioners, of whom around 15,000 are serious athletes.

Does Korean Military Use Taekwondo?

Yes, the Korean military (i.e. the South Korean Special Forces) uses taekwondo as part of their martial arts training.

As stated earlier, males who do not become proficient in elementary and grade school will receive advanced Tae Kwon Do training during their military training after completing high school.

This training is compulsory as the Korean military places great emphasis on martial arts and Tae Kwon Do in particular.

Note, however, that the Korean military does not use it in isolation or to the exclusion of other martial arts but is instead incorporated into Teukgong Moosool (TGMS).

Teukgong Moosool (TGMS) is a martial art originating from South Korea and it is the official martial art practiced by the South Korean Special Forces.

TGMS incorporates the most effective features of Taekwondo, Hapkido, Chinese martial arts, Judo, and Kyuk Too Ki.

It’s sparring primarily revolves around Kyuk Too Ki (which is similar to the official martial art of the People’s Liberation Army – Sanda).

In addition, grappling techniques are heavily emphasized as are submissions and joint manipulations of Hapkido. Judo throws are also learned, as is the footwork of Taekwondo.

Weapons are a central aspect of TGMS and include Nun Chakau, Knives, Swords, Staff, short Staff, and firearms, although weapons defense is taught within the legal environment of the country, meaning in Europe there is no use of firearms.

Can Foreigners Learn Taekwondo in Korea?

Besides learning about and watching taekwondo, foreigners can learn taekwondo in Korea as there are no restrictions on foreign participation in the art.

For example, The International Kumgang Taekwondo Center specializes in providing taekwondo experience programs to foreigners.

Programs range from short-term (basic forms and techniques) to long-term (a more intensive program held for a month or longer).

The programs are generally carried out inside taekwondo studios in Korea, making the experience more meaningful.

Small group sessions and large group sessions are available.

There are tons of taekwondo teaching studios in every city and neighborhood in Korea. So no matter where you are, you will find one nearby.  


As you can see, the popularity of taekwondo also applies to its state of origin as it is also widely practiced by both young and old living in Korea. As the old saying “Charity begins at home”.

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