Chungju: World Martial Arts Festival


The annual Chungju world Martial Arts Festival was something I’d never seen so this morning I embarked on the short cycle ride to the WMA park adjacent to Tangumdae. I arrive for the 1am scheduled start needless to say, little activity but this is SK! The action that was beginning early was the consumption of food and Makeoli. The craft stalls were severely subdued and the area where the opening ceremony had been scheduled was sparsely populated.

I decided to circumnavigate the park looking for photo opportunities of which it turned out there were few.  I did observe the fact that around 17 nations were represented but no USA, Great Britain, Canada, Germany or Russia the behemoths of international sport. It should have been renamed the The Chungju Small Nations in Asia Martial Arts Festival. That said I awaited with bated breath the spectacle that I hoped would eventually happen.  The park itself had morphed with a 150% growth in size in the last 12 months which made room for even more food tents and lavatories. The Peace Centre which was the subject of an international design project had iguanafied from a stunning futuristic glass motorbike helmet all Prometheus like into a traditional Shilla dynasty shaped Pyramid clad in syne, a U-turn reminiscent of Tory/Lib Dem Coalition policy.

The opening spectacle began 90 minutes late and could generally be described as chaotic. The bewildered teams from far-flung corners of Asia looked completely bemused as the organisers bluffed their way through.  Bizarrely a full-scale dress rehearsal had happened the night before so why it was such a shambles I don’t know. The event was being filmed as the organisers stood in a threesome directly in front of the cameras field of view.

The displays from the participants were splendidly impressive and made the trip worthwhile but everything else was embarrassing by its like of planning and customary Korean disorganisation. I shan’t be going next year.

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