Deadly diplomacy: UN's Ban gets taekwondo black belt
While it is unclear whether 68-year-old Ban Ki-Moon can break bricks with his bare hands, World Taekwondo Federation president Choue Chung-won said on Wednesday the awarding of the black belt in the Korean martial art reflected the common goals and values shared by the United Nations (UN) and federation.
"I am delighted to have presented UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon with our prestigious black belt," Choue said in a statement.
"The black belt is a globally-recognised symbol of expertise across the martial arts and awarding it to the secretary general represents how strongly matched the World Taekwondo Federation's values are with the United Nations."
South Korean Ban, who succeeded Kofi Annan in the UN's top job in 2007 and will serve through his second term until the end of 2016, praised the efforts of the federation, founded in 1973, to achieve peace through sport.
"The World Taekwondo Federation [has] many accomplishments to celebrate as [it marks its] 40th anniversary," he added in the statement. "[It has] become a great example of the values and objectives that are shared by the United Nations and the Olympic Movement."
While ninth degree is technically the highest level attainable through the ranking system, some honorary 10th degree black belts have been awarded to individuals for their contributions to taekwondo and society in general.
The World Taekwondo Federation presented their first two honorary 10th degree black belts to international Olympic committee president Jacques Rogge and his predecessor, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Ban is the third recipient of the award. – Reuters