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The Bobcat Prowl

The Bobcat Prowl

The Student News Site of South Windsor High School

The Bobcat Prowl

Beyond Borders: Mastering Martial Arts in North Korea

SWHS security guard, William Oulundsen, traveled to North Korea for Taekwondo.
Emily Porter
SWHS security guard, William Oulundsen, traveled to North Korea for Taekwondo.

North Korea, a country few have ventured into, is closed off to many in the world. However, SWHS’s own security officer, William Oulundsen, has traveled to the infamous country not only once, but twice. Oulundsen, known as Bill among students, is a safety officer at SWHS. He reveals his story about traveling to North Korea for Taekwondo training in the sport’s homeland. 

For over 80 years, Taekwondo has been a renowned sport all over the world. Originating in North Korea and created by General Choi Hong Hi, the sport has grown in popularity and spread all over the world.  Bill has been to North Korea twice to train the sport; once in 1989, and a second time in ‘92. 

I’ve also trained in many other countries across the world–Nigeria, South Korea, and the Philippines

— SWHS security guard, William Oulundsen

“I had an international instructor, which was the reason I went there,” Bill told The Prowl

Being unable to obtain a visa to go to North Korea from the US, Bill traveled to Russia the first time. He flew to North Korea and experienced his training program in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The second time, Bill flew to Beijing, China, and then flew into Pyongyang. 

“My first visit was when the original leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, was alive,” Bill explained. “He was actually present to watch our training program. The next time I went, Kim Jong Un was present. Due to the nature of North Korea’s government, we were required to visit Kim Ill Sung’s tomb and pay respects to him, after he had died.”

Bill explained that a memorable part of his visit was owning a pin of Kim Ill Sung, known as the Great Leader to North Koreans. The pin was a part of many examples of propaganda generated by the North Korean government.

Taekwondo skills are measured by belts, like many other Asian martial arts. A white belt signifies the beginning level and a black belt represents the highest; Bill is very proficient in Taekwondo. After receiving their first black belt, students can rise in degrees, going up to a 9th degree black belt.

“I started Taekwondo in 1976,” Bill explained, “and got my first degree black belt in ‘79. Then I received my first three degrees before the founder, Choi Hong Hi, and now I have an eighth degree black belt.” 

Bill’s unique experience has opened many doors for him. Being able to experience training all around the world and train before the founder of the sport has allowed him to become a highly trained fighter. Now, Bill uses his training and skills to protect the students and staff as a security officer at SWHS. 

 

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About the Contributor
Emily Porter, Staff Writer
Emily Porter is a sophomore at South Windsor High School. She’s on the swim team at the high school and swims outside of the school as well. In her free time, she’s either reading, writing, or chilling in bed with her cat. Emily began reading avidly at a young age, which shifted into a love for writing during quarantine. She continues to work on her writing skills when she can, and likes dabbling in other creative things like knitting and drawing.