Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been awarded the highest, ninth rank in the Korean martial art taekwondo.
The rank, along with a black belt and a corresponding certificate, was granted to the sporty Russian leader by Choue Chung-won, the head of the World Taekwondo Federation, during his trip to South Korea. Mr. Putin appeared flattered as he confessed he hadn’t deserved such a high rank. "Let’s call it our campaign to popularize this wonderful martial art," he said. "Russia will do its best to contribute to its popularity at home."
Only chosen few have so far been awarded the highest taekwondo rank, known as "dan." Among them are presidents of the US, Indonesia, Honduras, Spain, Croatia and Pakistan.
The Korean sensei, Choue Chung-won, said his organization was aware that the Russian leader was fond of and actively practiced martial arts. He said Russian martial artists ranked very high globally.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art which combines combat and self-defense techniques with exercise. It is popular among 70 to 80 million practitioners in 205 countries.