Golden taekwondo coach Choi soon to be a Thai
Choi Young Seok, the South Korean coach of Thailand’s taekwondo team, will be offered Thai citizenship soon, according to Taekwondo Association of Thailand president Pimol Srivikorn.
Choi helped bring glory to the Kingdom on Saturday when Panipak Wongpattanakit became the first Thai taekwondo exponent to win an Olympic gold medal.
Back in February, Choi spoke of his wish to renounce South Korean citizenship and become a Thai.
"I have been living in Thailand for more than two decades. My wife and son have moved to Thailand and we want to make our life here," he said.
Pimol revealed that Choi’s dream is about to come true, as his application to apply for Thai citizenship was completed just before Tokyo Olympics.
"We originally planned to submit documents three months before the Olympics," said Pimol, revealing Choi’s application had been stalled by the Covid-19 crisis and a delay getting documents delivered from South Korea.
Now, after self-isolating in Phuket, Choi will return to Bangkok to submit documents to the Royal Thai Police.
Pimol confirmed that Choi wants to be a Thai citizen, but said the final decision would be up to the government.
"It takes about 7-8 years [on average] to apply for Thai nationality. Some get it quickly but some do not, so it depends on government agencies," he said.
He said the association had not signed any contract with Choi, adding that the South Korean had pledged his services to Thai taekwondo.
"I admit that many countries have contacted Choi and offered a higher salary than us," he said.
"However, he wants to stay and develop Thai taekwondo athletes because he loves Thailand, Thai people and he wants to be Thai.”