Enter The Diplomat: UN chief gets black belt in taekwondo

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Representatives at the United Nations may think twice about crossing Mr Ban Ki Moon in future after the secretary-general was awarded an honorary 10th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of taekwondo.

While is unclear whether the 68-year-old Ban can break bricks with his bare hands, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) president Choue Chung Won said the awarding of the black belt reflected the common goals and values shared by the UN and the federation.

"I am delighted to have presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon with our prestigious black belt," Mr Choue said in a statement. "The black belt is a globally-recognised symbol of expertise across the martial arts and awarding it to the secretary-general represents how strongly matched the WTF's values are with the United Nations."

Mr Ban, who succeeded Mr Kofi Annan in the UN's top job in 2007 and will serve through his second term until the end of 2016, praised the efforts of the federation, founded in 1973, to achieve peace through sport.

"The World Taekwondo Federation have many accomplishments to celebrate as they mark their 40th anniversary," he added in the statement. "They have become a great example of the values and objectives that are shared by the United Nations and the Olympic Movement."

While ninth degree is technically the highest level attainable through the ranking system, some honorary 10th degree black belts have been awarded to individuals for their contributions to taekwondo and society in general.

The WTF presented their first two honorary 10th degree black belts to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and his predecessor, Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch. Mr Ban is the third recipient of the third.