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Contact(s):Jenny O’Connor
American Taekwondo Association
501.568.2821 ext. 2263

Monday, October 6, 2008

ATA Gifts Gate and Garden to City; Provides Martial Arts Education to At-Risk Youth

LITTLE ROCK (October 6, 2008) – On the 8th anniversary of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee’s passing, the family of the American Taekwondo Association’s (ATA) founder celebrated his life by gifting the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden to the city of Little Rock and kicked off a martial arts leadership program for local at-risk youth.

On Monday, Oct. 6, members of the Lee family gathered at the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden to officially gift the $1.4 million landmark to the city. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola was present to accept the gift from Sun C. Lee, widow of Eternal Grand Master Lee and chairman of the ATA board of directors.

ATA has been internationally headquartered in Little Rock since 1977 and hosts the largest annual convention in the city with its Songahm World Championships tournament each June. The Gate and Garden was presented by the Lee family to Little Rock, the city they call “home” as a gift from the family and the over 350,000 ATA instructors, members and friends worldwide.

Completed in the summer of 2007, the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden serves as a symbol of the friendship between South Korea and America, welcoming visitors to the city of Little Rock and Arkansas. Located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center on the bank of the Arkansas River, the Gate and Garden took over a year to complete. Behind a 27 foot tall South Korean gate, hand carved and painted by South Korean artisans, lies a garden of Korean foliage and symbolic structures that educate visitors about Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee’s contributions to society, the country of South Korea and the Songahm Taekwondo style the founder devoted his life to developing.

The H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden reminds visitors of ATA’s commitment to Little Rock. However, Eternal Grand Master Lee’s true passion was sharing martial arts leadership with the world. Through his Songahm Taekwondo teachings, ATA has changed over one million lives across the globe. Now, ATA is sharing the dynamic life skills education with students who need it most.

This fall, ATA is partnering with Hamilton Academy to begin the “ATA Leadership Nine” community service program for at-risk youth in Little Rock. During the pilot program, ATA will provide two classes per week, one class for about 20 junior high students and one class for 20 high school students. In these classes, students will learn nine life skills including self control, honor, integrity and respect. Nine is a significant number in Korean culture and is present in much of the ATA Taekwondo curriculum.

Lucas Taekwon Lee, son of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee and director of the H.U. Lee Foundation, says it is his family’s goal to see each student successfully complete the ATA program. “At the end of each semester, the students will receive a leadership stripe on their Taekwondo uniform indicating they have taken their first step to being a leader in the Little Rock community,” Lee said.

At Monday’s ceremony, ten Hamilton Academy students received their ATA uniforms and white belts. Carol Green, Director of Career and Alternative Education for Little Rock and Dr. Krishna Young, principal at Hamilton Academy were also present to see these students begin their ATA leadership journey.

Eternal Grand Master Lee founded ATA in 1969 to provide students the highest quality of martial arts instruction available in a safe, positive learning environment that people of all ages could enjoy. With active membership exceeding 350,000 worldwide in over 1,500 schools and clubs, ATA is North America’s largest martial arts organization dedicated to the discipline of Taekwondo. For more information about ATA or the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden please visit


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