Me Too Allegations Rock South Korea’s Elite World Of Sports


Shim Suk-hee competes in probably the most heats of the ladies’s 1,500-meter race of the ISU International Brief Observe Velocity Skating Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on March 10, 2017.

A two-time Olympic champion alleged ultimate month that her trainer had time and again raped her, environment off a wave of an identical intercourse abuse claims which might be rocking South Korea’s elite international of sports activities.

Shim Suk-hee, a short-track speedskater, instructed Korean media on Jan. eight that her trainer, Cho Jae-beom, sexually abused her for 4 years starting when she was once 17. In a police document filed the former month, she mentioned the alleged abuse infrequently happened in nationally controlled amenities, together with a locker room, ice skating rink and nationwide coaching heart.

“Shim hopes that an atmosphere during which a sufferer can talk out in a assured way can also be created within the sports activities group,” her attorney instructed Korean broadcaster SBS information.

Cho is serving a 10-month jail time period for bodily assaulting athletes, together with Shim. His attorney has mentioned attack happened however sexual violence didn’t.

Shim’s determination to talk out comes amid a burgeoning Me Too movement this is difficult taboos in South Korea’s conservative society. The motion strains its roots to a prosecutor’s allegations in opposition to a senior colleague ultimate yr. In an emotional tv interview, Website positioning Ji-hyeon alleged that Ahn Tae-geun had time and again groped her and that superiors retaliated in opposition to her when she complained. Ahn denied the accusation and can’t be charged with sexual abuse as a result of Korea’s one-year statute of barriers, the AFP reported.

However her public look resulted in a barrage of an identical lawsuits in opposition to male bosses and co-workers throughout industries. Those accusations culminated this month when a former provincial governor and conceivable presidential candidate was once sentenced to a few and a part years in jail on fees of sexually abusing his secretary.

Shim courageously broke the silence on the earth of sports activities, prompting an ongoing reckoning within the hierarchical business, during which male coaches wield huge affect over the lives and careers in their athletes.

Per week after Shim filed her police document, a former judo athlete accused her trainer of sexually assaulting her when she was once a minor. In an interview with South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, Shin Yu-yong alleged that her trainer raped her 20 occasions between 2011 and 2015. In media interviews, she mentioned he threatened that they might each be “completed on the earth of judo” if she ever instructed someone concerning the abuse. The Korea Judo Affiliation completely banned the trainer, whose identification has now not been printed, according to Shin’s allegations, The Korea Herald reported. The trainer, a married guy, has denied sexually assaulting Shin and claimed as an alternative that they’d an on-again, off-again consensual courting.

That very same week, 15 taekwondo athletes shaped a “sufferers union” and complained in opposition to a former senior government of the Korea Taekwondo Affiliation. Lee Ji-hye, the one accuser to expose her title, mentioned the abuse started in 1998, when she was once in 6th grade, and persisted for 5 years. In a tv interview, she mentioned the manager, whose identification could also be being withheld, threatened to kill her if her accusations landed him in jail.

He stepped down as head of the affiliation and is these days on trial for sexual attack.

The accusations have persisted to reverberate via different sports activities, together with sepak takraw, sometimes called kick volleyball, and football, the place feminine athletes accuse male coaches of abusing their energy.

Male Energy In Korea’s Sports activities Scene

South Korea’s sports activities international is notoriously aggressive and laser-focused on growing elite athletes. On this machine, talking out in opposition to a trainer, specifically on the subject of refined subjects of sexual violence, is tantamount to profession suicide — a end result maximum athletes who’ve devoted their whole lives to their recreation don’t seem to be prepared to stand.

Additionally, Korea’s athletic organizations are notoriously hierarchical. A trainer is given complete authority over the entirety from settling on athletes to paintings with to selecting the occasions during which they compete. A trainer’s determination can utterly exchange the process an athlete’s existence.

The coaches in those positions of energy are overwhelmingly male, in step with better societal traits. Korea ranked 115th out of 149 international locations within the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, which measures gender-based disparities in financial participation, training, well being and political empowerment. In keeping with the Korean day by day Hankook Ilbo, almost about 18 p.c of the 19,965 coaches registered within the Korean Game and Olympic Committee in 2018 had been ladies. The similar yr, greater than 23 p.c of registered athletes had been ladies. In different phrases: Feminine athletes are quite higher represented in sports activities than feminine coaches.

However on the earth of skating, the place Korea dominates at the global level, the gender imbalance is much more dramatically skewed. The rustic’s 223 feminine short-track speedskaters are coached solely by way of males. And in golfing, during which just about 50 p.c of athletes are feminine, ladies account for simply 10 p.c of coaches.

Lim Shin-ja, a professor at Kyung Hee College and the president of Korea’s Ladies’s Sports activities Affiliation, mentioned in an interview with Hankook Ilbo that Korea’s sports activities group is especially conservative and male-dominated.

“Now not simplest can feminine coaches now not exhibit their abilities and talents, but additionally there’s infrequently any popularity for such demonstrations to be authorized,” she mentioned. “First, an ecosystem the place feminine coaches can exhibit their functions must be in position. Then there can be much less violence in opposition to feminine athletes.”

Korea’s Executive Responds

In keeping with a public uproar, Korea’s executive has initiated countermeasures to eliminate sexual violence within the sports activities group. The Nationwide Human Rights Fee of Korea announced plans last month for the rustic’s largest-ever inquiry right into a tradition of abuse in sports activities. After the yearlong investigation, the fee will factor tips and may just additionally ahead proof to police for conceivable prosecution.

Do Jong-hwan, the rustic’s minister of tradition, sports activities and tourism, mentioned Korea will “take the lead” in sports activities ethics so athletes will now not undergo, the Yonhap Information Company reported. “We will be able to admire others, include the result [of the investigation] and materialize the intrinsic values of sports activities that form a wholesome society.”

Many Koreans are observing with intent as the issue of sexual violence — the top of a long-submerged iceberg — will get uncovered and slowly chipped away.

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