Taekwondo fighters from around the globe are gearing up for the largest international taekwondo event ever held here in Korea.
The World Taekwondo Championships kicked off in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province on Sunday drawing over 1-thousand athletes from a record 149 countries.
Taekwondo, a fast-growing sport with 197 nations registered as members of the World Taekwondo Federation has been a key element in bringing Korean culture to the world.
[Interview : Chung Byoung-gug
Minister of Culture, Sports & Tourism] "Taekwondo began in Korea and all of its terminologies are in Korean. And as there are over 70-million people practicing taekwondo globally, there is nothing better than taekwondo in promoting Korean culture."
This is the first time in 10 years that Korea is hosting the biennial event, with the last tournament held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009.
And as the martial art has been brought back to the city it originated from, organizers promise an even fiercer competition along with a fairer judging process.
[Interview : Choue Chung-won, President
World Taekwondo Federation] "Electronic protectors and instant video replay were first introduced at the 2009 championships. However, as instant replay has improved, this tournament will be the most fair and competitive one ever."
A glance at the stadium is enough to show the growing popularity of the sport as fighters have come from every corner of the globe such as Canada, Croatia, and Myanmar to represent over 70-million taekwondo practitioners.
[Interview : Bernard Posey, US participant] "My goal is to bring back the gold. To win it all and nothing less and to represent my country well and to show pride for my country."
[Interview : Dana Touran, Jordanian participant] "It's the first time I've been here at a World Championship Game and it's very nice. Korea, it's the mother of this game. To see all the people here, it's very nice."
The athletes will be divided into eight male and eight female weight divisions for the preliminary round with the semifinals and finals taking place from May 2nd to the 4th.
[Reporter : Hwang Sung-hee
email@example.com] "The event will run through May 6th and until then, these fighters will be kicking and punching to come out as the best of the best.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News, Gyeongju."