On 24 April 2023, the 27th contingent of peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea held a completion ceremony for its Taekwondo classes in Abbassiyah and Burgholiyah, south Lebanon. The ceremony was attended by senior Korean peacekeepers, including the Battalion Chief of Staff, as well as the Mayor of Abbassiyah, Ali Ezzeddine, and 100 students from the beginner and advanced classes.
From 11 October 2022 to 4 April 2023, the Korean peacekeepers conducted regular Taekwondo classes for the local community in the two villages. Over the course of 7 months, the 119 sessions for each of the advanced and beginner classes allowed the students to develop their physical fitness and mental endurance, while also learning about the culture and traditions of Korea.
During the evaluation period for the beginner class on 13 April, 36 out of 52 examinees were successfully promoted to their next level, showcasing the progress made by the students.
In his speech at the ceremony, Lieutenant-Colonel Kyu Cheol LEE, Chief of Staff of the Republic of Korea Battalion (ROKBATT), thanked all the students for their active participation in the Taekwondo classes over the last 7 months. He also expressed his hope that the students continue to take steps towards reaching their goals through Taekwondo.
“Thank you to the instructors and members of ROKBATT for coordinating the Taekwondo class,” said Ali Ezzeddine, Mayor of Abbassiyah. “The students were able to gain mental confidence through Taekwondo and get to know ROKBATT and Korea,” he added.
One of the advanced students, Maya Alhamoud (15), shared her personal experience with Taekwondo in her speech. She expressed that she was experiencing depression after losing her brother in a motorcycle accident, but the Taekwondo classes helped her develop her endurance and mental strength. “I thank ROKBATT and the instructors for their great support over the last few months,” she said.
UNIFIL peacekeepers from the Republic of Korea have over the years supported the Lebanese Armed Forces and communities in the south through numerous projects such as medical support, paving roads, renovation of public facilities and installation of solar power generators. Their Taekwondo classes have been a favorite with the local population, and we can expect more to come with the next group of Korean peacekeepers who will soon be arriving.