The Taekwondo spirit originated from the traditional national thought of the Korean people. According to Korean legend this originated from the founder of the Korean nation, Tangun. Tangun advocated the idealism of "hong-ik in-gan" (universal benefits of humanism). This thought became the basis for the Korean traditional national philosophy and also the basis of the Taekwondo spirit.
During this Three Kingdoms period Bhuddism and Confusianism were practised widely in Korea. The idealism of "hongik-ingan", represented by the philospohy of "Seon", was developed by the Hwarang with the integration of Buddhist and Confucian ideas into the hwarangdo spirit. The hwarangdo spirit is characterised by the three virtues of loyalty, filial piety and reliability, and three virtuous conducts of modesty, frugality and restraint.
The traditional thought "hong-ik in-gan" stresses respect for all human beings. The Korean people throughout the Koryo and Chosun periods were taught in their daily life to respect their superiors and treat their inferiors kindly.
During this time there were a number of scholars expressing various philosophical theories. One of these, Great Scholar Yi Yul-Kok, said in his writings: "I endeavoured incessantly to achieve self-restraint until I could reach a realm of a saintly life", "I do what is to be done with all sincerity" and "Cultivation of the mind and learning should be continued without slowing down the tempo". These sayings partly reflect the spirit of Taekwondo.
One of the most significant ideals of this time, and even today, is that of "Chon-do". "Chon-do" is to do the right thing or follow the right way. This ideal is an integral part of the Taekwondo spirit.