Choi, HongHi was born in what is now considered DPRK (North Korea). Born in the village of HaGa-myun in the northern part of Hamgyoung-Namto (?? ??-????) which is located in the north-eastern part of the Korean peninsula. Born into a poor family, his father Choi, KwanJun had done many things, he studied herbal medicine, owned a small brewery, practice acupuncture but we prone to drinking and gambling. What little “inheritance” the Choi family had actually came from his mother HyeJun as she was the eldest of a wealthy family. Choi’s mother had a total of eight children, but lost five at a very young age. Only Choi’s brother Bong-Hi (three years his elder) and a sister WonGil (2 years younger) survived to adulthood. At a very young age, Choi, HongHi demonstrated a very stubborn streak that would carry out until his untimely death at the age of 84. By the time Choi was six years old, his father had moved him and his siblings in with a mistress a Choi, NukJu who became a “step-mother” to the children, and left his mother HyeJun deserted without the legal recourse of a divorce. NukJu knew well how to handle men, as she was a Ki-sang (something not unlike the Japanese Geisha), she enjoyed drinking, smoking and the card game of Hawtu, but she was an excellent cook and very good a singing PanSori.
Choi’s schooling was meager but, not all that unusual considering the times. Choi, had failed to pass the 5th
grade, and had wondered how he actually made it passed 4th, considering he was more into making mischief then learning based on Japanese and European curriculum, his father actually only cared that he learn from the Chinese Classics, which again was not unusual in the highly Confusion society of Korea. Also, much like many other Koreans of the time young Choi because very anti-Japanese. However, he along with his family knew that the only way to get through the life under Japanese rule was to “go along to get along” and by 1938 Choi found himself headed for Japan to earn money and apply for a school. Choi, arrived in Kyoto and soon met with a family friend to help him transition as a Korean in Japan. After about three months of working and studying the young Choi received his sponsor who then led him to witness his first Karate class at the University of Doshisha. So it’s clear Choi, started is Karate training late in 1938 or early 1939. After about two years the young Choi ended up at Chou University looking to study Law. This also happens to be the same university that Lee, Won-Kuk also was a student at!
By earlier 1943 as Choi was a freshman in Chou University (Lee, Won-Kuk was a junior) and the Japanese were now in a firm retreat across the Pacific losing ground during World War II. By October of 1943 Choi along with all the other Koreans knew that time was coming that they would soon be used as draftee’s for the Japanese Army, and where given notice of such. And on the last day of registration (20 October 1943) finally was “captured” to sign the enlistment papers without delay. Since Choi was the most experienced at writing (Remember, Koreans didn’t use their Korean names, but Japanese names and thus Japanese Kanji.) So on 16 January 1944, Choi became Private Nishiyama (Koreans, again had to use Japanese names rather then their family names.) started his one month basic training. And was shortly stationed in Pyongyang.
Private Nishiyama (Choi), was assigned to the 42nd Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division of the Japanese Imperial Army. His first assignment was to work in the stables tending to the horses used by the military to move equipment etc. At this time and in this part of the Japanese Empire, not many units were “mechanized.” After a short period, Private Nishiyama Yuseki became part of the organizing committee of the Pyongyang Hahk-byung (Korean student soldier’s). This organization one of many anti-Japanese moments stated purpose and goals were: 1) We shall fight for the independence of our nation with total devotion. 2) We shall unite regardless of individual ideological beliefs. 3) We shall follow the order of the organization. 4) We shall open membership through intelligence and forgiveness. However, this was short lived as with many organization of the type, they were betrayed and Private Nishiyama Yuseki (Choi) was arrested along with other leaders and first being held at the Cho-Uil Military Police post then shortly transferred to Pyongyang Prison after receiving an eight year sentence. With the fall of the Japanese Empire on the 16th of August 1945 Private Nishiyama Yuseki could now go by his given name with the iron gate opened wide for political prisoners such as himself, with only having to serve seven months out of the eight years sentence, which if the Japanese were not defeated would have surely meant death as evidence with other Japanese prisoners. A interesting foot note to the history of Taekwon-Do is that, without the Allied Forces, principally the USA and Soviet Union, we very well, may not have ever have known the art we call Taekwon-Do today or Choi, HongHi.
Soon after liberation and a brief return to his home district, Choi, had traveled to Seoul before the 38th Parallel became the “official” line dividing the North from the South. Having been involved in the Hahk-byung movement, Choi was able to get an appointment to the Military Language School sponsored by the US in Seoul. So, in January 1946, Choi along with Lim, Sun-Ha applied to the academy. The “principal” of the academy was an US Army Major, a Jonathan Reese. And with a simply interview, Choi became one of 110 founding members of the “prototype” for what would become the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. Of course the first goal of this school was to train Koreans to speak English, thus enabling an “easier” transition between the US Armed Forces and the newly created Republic of Korea Armed forces, although this didn’t become official until 1948.
MORE TO FOLLOW!
General Choi’s Final Words (as told and recorded directly to GM Hwang, Kwang-Sung K-9-1)
(Please note, this is my translation of the original Korean text)
ALSO NOTE, THERE IS A MISCONCEPTION THAT THIS WILL WAS TOLD TO “NORTH KOREANS” AND THEN LATER TOLD TO THE PEOPLE PRESENT, THIS IS NOT TRUE! GENERAL CHOI SPOKE THIS WILL TO GM HWANG, KWANGSUNG K-9-1 AND IT WAS HE WHO MADE SURE THAT IT WAS WRITTEN DOWN AS GENERAL CHOI SPOKE IT TO HIM. ALL PRESENT COULD UNDERSTAND GENERAL CHOI CLEARLY (KOREAN) AND HE WAS NOT UNDER ANY SEDATION OR OTHER DRUGS AT THIS TIME!
11 June 2002
I am the man who has the most followers in the world.
I am the happiest man who has done everything to do in my life.
It is very fortunate you have come.
Is Mr. Chang Ung here?
Mr. Rhee, Ki-Ha, it is good you have come. I am glad my son and daughters liked you.
You probably might know Mr. Chang Ung as the tallest Korean and I want to hold the highest position in the ITF.
If only I had been as tall as Mr. Chang Ung, I could have had less opponents, however, as my body was so small that meant many opponents. Thus, all alone, I could not fight them all for ever.
But I have never swayed from justice on my being on my side.
I have always worried about my successor to the presidency, however my mind is set at ease for there is Mr. Chang.
Mr. Hwang, KwangSung, your duties are very big and important as spokesman and the Chairman of the Merger Committee. It is my wish to merge Taekwon-Do into one. Do your duty responsibly.
Mr. Park, Jong-Soo had immigrated to Canada in 1967, before that he taught Taekwon-Do in Europe. In 1972 I went to Canada where Mr. Park resided leaving my family behind.
In those days Taekwon-Do was not as widely known, so I use to say that you would have to crave “Taekwon-Do” on my coffin. Now Taekwon-Do has developed on a large scale.
I love Mr. Tom MacCallum, I have always worried if he might die before me, what I could do to help his family, he as given a lot to the ITF. And I have no secrets hidden from him. Thank you for what you have done. I love you.
Mr. Leong Wei Meng is a man of good conscience, has given a lot to the education of Taekwon-Do, since he was financially well, I thought of him as a stockholder for the Chang Hon Foundation.
Mr. Hwang, Jin is doing well following the path of Mr. Chon, Jin-Sik. So I want to appoint him as a member of the Consultative Committee. Please see to it that the Committee is enlarged to 9 positions to appoint him and Mr. Jong, Jae-Hun.
My followers, Taekwon-Do has never existed without the help of D.P.R. Korea, all should know this. The ITF is an international organization and we do not need to argue about ideology. Does the United Nations belong to the negros because their Secretary General is negro? Please do not think this way.
Taekwon-Do must be centered in Korea.
Choi, Jung-Hwa lied to me at the airport, he deceived me again. You need to tell the public through the internet that I do not forgive him as Taekwo-Doin but I do forgive him as his father.
Unless Jung-Hwa apologizes to the Taekwon-Do world, he should never be forgiven. While I still breathe, please send this message via the internet as soon as possible.
TAEKWON-DO EXISTS FOREVER.
1630 hrs to 1710hrs 11 June 2002
In the hospital in Pyongyang, D.P.R. Korea
Mrs. Choi, Joon-Hi – Canada (wife)
GM Hwang, Kwang-Sung K-9-1 – USA (Aide to Gen., Spokesman for ITF & Merger Committee)
GM Rhee, KiHa GB-9-1 – UK (ITF Vice-President)
GM Park, Jong-Soo – Canada C-9-1 (Member of Consultative Committee)
Master Thomas MacCallum – Austria GB-8-3 (Secretary General)
Master Hwang, Jin – Japan J-8-1 (Member of Consultative Committee)
Master Leong Wei Meng – Greenland GR-8-1 (Chairman of Consultative Committee)
Master Phap Lu – Canada C-8-4 (Member of Executive Committee)
Mr. Chang, Ung – D.P.R. Korea (IOC Member)
Mr. Jong, Jae-Hun – D.P.R.Korea (Sec. Gen. of the International Martial Arts Game Committee)
Mr. Hwang, Bong-Yu – D.P.R.Korea (Chairman of Korea Taekwon-Do Committee)
Mr. Rang, Bong-Man – D.P.R.Korea (Sec. Gen. Korean Taekwon-Do Committee)
“While the heaven and earth cries in sorrow, we are gathered here today to say our final goodbye to you General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwon-Do.
In spite of all the hardships and obstacles, you have made Taekwon-Do, the are we treasure as our own lives. For more then half century, you have dedicated your life and spirit to bring Taekwon-Do to its full maturity.
We now practice this wonderful art that you have given us in its true spirit regardless of nationality, religion and ideology.
While making our bodies healthier and stronger, we have learned to live closer to the tenets of Taekwon-Do. We have learned honor, righteousness, fervor, determination, responsibility and cooperation.
As you loved it, we too sir, love Taekwon-Do with our heart. We now take your teachings and will strive to maintain the independence of martial art in its purest form. We will not compromise the principles of Taekwon-Do thereby refusing to side with any ideology, politics, monopolization and abuse.
The one way yo have shown to us is the path we will follow. The way of a true warrior. We pledge to you today to follow the leadership of our new president armed with your Taekwon-Do philosophy, so that your Taekwon-Do will be handed down to the many generations to come in its purest form.
This is our duty as Taekwon-Do practitioners to guarantee the continuation of this wonderful art. You sir now have left us. We ask you to look down upon us and guide us in this endeavor. We will forever remember you and treasure you in our hearts as our great teacher.
Dear sir, you can now finally rest in peace.”
Professor Kim, WonJu