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NPTHC members with Grandmaster Lee Jung Nam

Great Grandmaster Lee Jung Nam is a 9th Dan Blackbelt in both Taekwondo and Kuk Jae Hapkido; he is widely recognised as the father of Taekwondo within New Zealand.


Great Grandmaster Lee Jung Nam (at 6th Dan) was invited to New Zealand by the then government to train both our army and police forces in hand-to-hand combat techniques; and the prospect of raising his family in a country with a clean healthy reputation far outweighed the greater financial rewards he was offered in America.

GGM Lee was born in Kyangju, a city situated next to Moo Doung San mountain in Korea and earned his 1st Dan black belt at age 13. His training was done high on the slopes of the mountain and was taught by a monk at a Bhuddist temple. He was originally trained in Bong Hwa Kwan, one of the several styles that evolved into Taekwondo and Hapkido as we know it today.

When GGM Lee graduated from Chosun university,  he set up his own dojang in Kyangju City. At this time not many people studied the martial arts in Korea because the Japanese had occupied Korea since 1907, and had forbidden the study of Korean martial arts. When the Japanese occupation ended in 1945 the few Koreans who were experienced in their traditional martial arts by studying in secret, began the long and arduous task of re-establishing the arts in the Korean culture. GGM Lee was one of these people.

Shortly afterwards, GGM Lee became eligible for his stint of compulsory Army service. He excelled at the training and after a couple years  ended up in a Special Forces Commando unit;  Because of his skills and diligence his superiors made him an Instructor.


GGM Lee was sent to Vietnam in 1966 to train the south Vietnamese and American commandos. During his time in Vietnam GGM Lee became well known for his martial arts skills and received an invitation from Thailand to send a team to compete against a team of Thai Kickboxers. GGM Lee trained his team 10 hours a day, every day, for two months for the event. On their way to Thailand they put on a demonstration in Kuala Lumpar and upon arriving in Thailand they were asked to perform a similar demonstration. The evening before the competition they performed their demonstration in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. They broke boards and tiles, and showed unarmed combat and fighting techniques with such ferocity and determination that later that evening the organisers of the competition cancelled the fights due the next day.

During his time in Vietnam GGM Lee was awarded the Education Medal from the South Vietnamese government for his services and later was awarded the In Han Medal and Bronze Star Medal in recognition of his services to Korea.

GGM Lee left the Korean army in 1971 with the rank of captain (special forces) and took up the position of Director of the Bong Hwa Hapkido and Taekwondo Gymnasium in Seoul, Korea. From his time in the army GGM Lee developed quite a reputation for himself, particularly among many of the Americans who had been stationed in Vietnam. When he left the army the American Taekwondo Association invited GGM Lee to the USA and provided a work visa so that he could teach martial arts. However, at the time, GGM Lee personally knew the New Zealand ambassador in South Korea and had heard a lot about New Zealand.

GGM Lee considered the opportunities however New Zealand represented a great opportunity to establish and develop Taekwondo and Hapkido in a new country. This "challenge" and the prospect of raising his family in a country with a clean healthy reputation far outweighed the greater financial rewards available in the USA.

He arrived in New Zealand in 1975 and began teaching Taekwondo and Hapkido to the  police, traffic officers, army, airforce, prison officers, and women's groups.

He started at the YMCA in Wellington and it did not take long for him to establish new clubs by helping his senior students to become instructors around Wellington and the lower North Island. Soon after he founded the New Zealand Taekwondo Federation and expanded into the Taranaki area starting the New Plymouth Taekwondo club in 1981.

In 1983 the first club in Auckland started at what is now AUT and it was not long before there were NZTF clubs throughout NZ. In 1991 GGM Lee moved from Wellington to Auckland to concentrate his efforts in promoting Taekwondo and Hapkido to a larger population base.

During his time in NZ GGM Lee has also worked on extending his own qualifications, going from 6th Dan Black-belt Master when he arrived, to 9th Dan Black-belt and the title of Grandmaster in Hapkido in 1990 and 9th Dan Black-belt and title of Great Grandmaster in Taekwondo which he achieved in 1991.


In 2016 Great Grandmaster Lee Jung Nam was appointed to the Kukkiwon Committee for his services to Taekwondo. Kukkiwon is the organisation that certifies the Black-belts world wide for the World Taekwondo Federation; this is a great honor.

Master Drummond & Great Grandmaster Lee
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