Halifax taekwondo grandmaster suspended over caning

Woo Yong Jung, head instructor and owner of Woo Yong's Taekwondo Academy on Kempt Road, caned the student in front of numerous members of the club, but neither the student nor the student's parents complained. The Maritime Taekwondo Union issued Jung's suspension.

Neither the student nor the student's parents complained about the incident

Woo Yong Jung is head instructor and owner of Woo Yong's Taekwondo Academy. (CBC)

A Halifax taekwondo grandmaster has had his coaching credentials at local and national taekwondo events suspended after he struck a 17-year-old student with a bamboo cane in early January.

Woo Yong Jung, head instructor and owner of Woo Yong's Taekwondo Academy on Kempt Road, caned the student in front of numerous members of the club, but neither the student nor the student's parents complained. The Maritime Taekwondo Union (MTU) issued Jung's suspension.

"Master Jung has done a tremendous amount to advance the study of taekwondo in Canada. He is the only grandmaster in Atlantic Canada and has been teaching for 30 years. This isolated incident is, unfortunately, being blown way out of proportion," Jung's lawyer, Jason Gavras, told CBC News in an email.

2 investigations

The union said in a news release issued Monday the caning incident, as well as a second alleged incident are being investigated. 

The initial incident was reported Jan. 15. The second incident is in relation to Jung's subsequent behaviour at the National Taekwondo Championships held in Ottawa the weekend of Feb. 15-18.

"It is not part of what taekwondo has as part of its principles, its tenets," said union president Douglas Large. "We do not, as masters and instructors, use corporal punishment."

The results of the investigations will be handed over to an independent discipline panel for review and possible additional sanctions, the union said in a news release. Sanctions range from dismissal of the complaint to permanent expulsion from the union.

No police charges

Gavras said Jung, the student who was disciplined and his family are "quite surprised that this matter has become a story."

"They consider it largely a non-event and closed long ago," Gavras said. "This entire matter is the result of a very botched process conducted by a small, informal group of people within the MTU and one anonymous complainant."

Halifax Regional Police investigated the incident, but did not lay any charges.

"The youth did not require any medical attention and did not suffer physical injuries," Const. Carol McIsaac told CBC News in an email.

Gavras said Jung believes this is a case of his competitors trying to damage his reputation because of his success in producing champions. Jung himself won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Parental support for Jung

When Large was asked by CBC News if he was impartial in this incident, he said he's not involved in the investigation or any of the procedures and processes underway.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Woo Yong Parents Association said he supports Jung.

"We're rather surprised and rather bewildered by the whole situation," said chairperson Byron Kendall. "There was a decision that was made by a family, a decision on discipline and how to discipline a young man to try to correct some difficult behaviour and that decision involved Master Jung."

Kendal said he has "absolutely no concern" about the safety and security of his six- and nine-year-old children when they're in the care of Jung.

Large said he's been practising taekwondo for nearly 20 years and this is the first time he's heard of caning in the sport.

"It's not what I teach in my practice, it's not what anyone that I know outside of this incident would ever do," said Large. 

Gavras said Jung's discipline was "entirely in keeping with his cultural tradition and training and the student, having studied in Korea, was fully aware of this and doesn't see it as a problem."

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.

With files from Tom Murphy