North Korea Cancels Joint Tae Kwon Do Demonstration at the Vatican

Troy Young, May 25, 2018, 8:47 a.m.

A planned demonstration of the Korean martial art taekwondo by a joint Korean team has been unilaterally canceled by the North, according to sources Friday. The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), an international organization led by the North, notified the South Korean-led World Taekwondo (WT) of the cancellation on Thursday.

In the brief letter, the North Korean taekwondo federation reportedly cited the Max Thunder military exercise between South Korea and the U.S. as the major reason for the pullout from the planned demonstration.

The joint team, comprising South and North Korean taekwondo practitioners, had planned to give the performance at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on May 30 in front of dignitaries including Pope Francis.

The joint event had been suggested by Vatican representatives when they visited South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February. After the Olympics ended, the Vatican officially proposed the two organizations stage the performance in the run up to the WT's Taekwondo Grand Prix event slated for June 1-3 in Rome.

The letter was sent before U.S. President Donald Trump canceled the June 12 Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The South Korean embassy in the Holy See said it hasn't yet been informed of the cancellation by the Vatican.

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