‘I’m proud of my African heritage’

‘I’m proud of my African heritage’

The Korea Times

Kim Se-jeong

Top award winner Park Ji-han says taekwondo changed him

When Park Ji-han was in his first year at elementary school, his classmates called him “African shala shala” because of his background and because he spoke Arabic.

Now, a decade later, the handsome youth’s nickname is “walking statue.” The high school sophomore stands about 179 centimeters tall, and he has chiseled features that could stare down any K-pop star or actors for that matter.

The change speaks volumes about how much Park, 17, went through as a young boy and how far he has come. He attributes this to taekwondo.

A student at Daekyeong Commercial High School in Seoul, he was recently named the grand winner in the 3rd Korea Multicultural Youth Awards organized by The Korea Times and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Park was born in 1997 to a Korean mother and Sudanese father. He lives with his parents and older brother in Itaewon in Seoul.

He began learning taekwondo when he was in the second grade.

“I had no friends in the first grade, but in the second grade I finally met a good friend, and I practiced taekwondo with him,” he told The Korea Times. Initially, he took up the martial art to defend himself as he was still scared of the boys who had mocked him…

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