November 15, 2013 11:36
Russian President Vladimir Putin was late to his meeting with President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday because he was given an honorary ninth-degree black belt at his hotel.
The World Taekwondo Federation said "a ceremony" was held at Lotte Hotel at 1 p.m. that day awarding Putin the black belt and a Taekwondo uniform.
The Russian president is keen on conspicuous displays of manliness but does not practice the sport.
A federation official said the organization contacted Putin about giving him the honorary black belt and that the Russian leader "decided at the last minute on Wednesday morning" to receive it.
"The ceremony was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. but took place a bit later," the official added.
Putin left the hotel around 1:10 p.m., already 10 minutes late for the summit, and then insisted on stopping his motorcade as he passed members of the Korea Sambo Federation who were standing on the sidewalk with a banner welcoming him. He spent around 15 minutes pressing the flesh and having his photo taken with them. Sambo is a Russian martial art.
The Russian leader was a Sambo champion at university and now serves as honorary chairman of the International Sambo Federation. Putin was also given an eighth-degree black belt in Judo for his 60th birthday last year and is a karate expert.
One diplomatic source said the Korean government should be grateful Putin was only half an hour late since he turned up four hours late for a summit with the president of Ukraine recently and is famous for being habitually cavalier in his dealings with other leaders.
In 2006, Putin met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is afraid of dogs, and brought his large hunting dog with him and presented her with a smaller version of the canine.
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