“For sportspeople all injuries are dangerous. And for a Taekwon-Doist the rupture of the spleen is such a fatal wound as to give up the sport,” said Won Se Chang, manager of the Taekwon-Do Club of the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee.
But there is a Taekwon-Do player who got up from such a condition with a strong will and won the world championship. She is People’s Athlete Paek Chun Ok (pictured).
Born to an ordinary military officer’s family in Phyongsong City of South Phyongan Province, she began to learn the Korean martial art in 1989.
A tall girl with an aptitude for sports from her primary school years, she played as an athlete at the then South Phyongan Provincial Sports Club, before being picked out as a Taekwon-Do player by the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee. She obtained the first dan of Taekwon-Do one year after beginning the training, second and third dans after two years.
She made her international debut at the Eighth Taekwon-Do World Championships, coming third in the women’s 58kg individual sparring.
She grew more confident after the first international event and trained hard to win a gold medal in the team sparring of the first junior Taekwon-Do world championships held the year after.
However, she was diagnosed as having the rupture of spleen and underwent a surgical operation to remove it during the training to prepare for the Ninth Taekwon-Do World Championships.
“Doctors said I had to give up professional career. My family members were also very worried about me. But I could not abandon my dream of winning the world championship,” recalled Paek.
Though her basic physical strength declined after being hospitalized for months, she launched into the training with a decision to start out on her career again from the beginning.
“It was hard for me. And there was no guarantee that my physical conditions would be recovered. But I wanted to go the way I have chosen to the last,” said Paek.
Her painstaking efforts bore fruit: she was placed first and second in individual and team special technique respectively in the second junior Taekwon-Do world championships and won two gold medals in the same events in the third junior world Taekwon-Do championships. Later, she snatched a gold in the Tenth Taekwon-Do World Championships she had so long desired and became a Merited Athlete.
With such unrivalled special techniques as jump and high frontal kick, jump and spin kick, jump and turning side kick and others, she won the individual special technique event again in the 11th Taekwon-Do World Championships.
“Sportspeople’s challenging spirit to achieve their goal and dream help them surpass their physical capacity. Many of them are training in such a spirit. I am only one of them,” she said.
After retiring, she worked as a coach of the Taekwon-Do Club of the Korean Taekwon-Do Committee and trained promising reserve players. She is now putting all her effort and time into developing the techniques of the Korean martial art at the Taekown-Do Scientific Research Institute.