Technically, 1955 signalled the beginning of Taekwon-Do as a formally recognized art in Korea. On the 11th of April 1955, a special board was summoned by General Choi to decide on the unified name of Taekwon-Do. After much debate, the five major Kwans, Chung Do Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, and Moo Duk Kwan accepted the name because it closely resembled the name of the ancient Korean martial art, Tae Kyon. This single unified name of Taekwon-Do replaced the different and confusing terms, such as Dang Soo, Gong Soo, Taek Kyon, and Kwon Bup.
In 1961, the Korean Taekwon-do Association was formed with General Choi as its President. During the next few years, he led Taekwon-do demonstration teams throughout the world. In 1965, the South Korean government gave approval to General Choi’s martial art and declared it as Korea’s National martial art. Shortly after the formation of the KTA he authored the first book ever on Taekwon-Do, written in both Korean HanGul and Chinese HanJa. This book documented the first five Korean Patterns he created along with the assistance of the soldiers under his command. (Hwa-Rang, Chung-Mu, Ul-Ji, U-Nam and Sam-Il). This historic book is on display in the museum history section of the Taekwondowon in MuJu Korea. General Choi would go on to author several other books, including the 1972 textbook that became known as the “bible of Taekwon-Do”, the unprecedented 15 Volume Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do in 1983, several condensed versions of that work, his 3 Volume Set of Memoirs, as well as a Guidebook on Moral Culture.
In 1962 due to political issues in Korea he was required to take a post as the ambassador to Malaysia where he continued to promote and promulgate Taekwon-Do and consequently even today Taekwon-Do is a very popular Martial Art in that country. In 1965 he returned to Korea and in 1966 he established the International Taekwon-Do Federation and took several demonstration teams around the World to promote the Art. Nonetheless in 1972 he chose to seek asylum while on a tour to Canada and subsequently moved the headquarters of the ITF first to Toronto, Canada and then to Vienna in Austria. The South Korea government under the leadership of Park Chung-Hee with whom Choi Hong Hi had significant problems, responded by forming a new organisation, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), based in Seoul and led by the infamous Un Yong Kim who was an agent of the KCIA. General Choi’s efforts took Taekwon-Do to places like Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China during the “Cold War” era. This groundbreaking work has led to some of these Nations being powerhouses in Taekwon-Do today.
Choi’s final years were marked by his efforts to return to North Korea. He introduced taekwondo there in 1980, and won further favour with the government by changing the name of one solo practice form from kodang (after a North Korean democratic Christian moderate, presumed slain by the Red Army in 1946) to juche (after the isolationist policy of “self-reliance” advocated by North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung). Though Choi’s intention had been reconciliatory, unfortunately South Korea saw it as treasonous.
Shortly before his death in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Choi was able to announce through the ITF website, “I am the man who has the most followers in the world”: be that as it may, the impact of taekwondo, with 50m practitioners after 50 years of existence, is undeniable. After a life dedicated to the development of Taekwon-Do, a modern martial art based on traditional values, philosophy, and training, General Choi, Founder of Taekwon-Do and President of the International Taekwon-Do Federation, died on June 15th, 2002, in the country of his birth.