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KSOC addresses sexual assault

Sports committee plan gives investigative power to third parties
Jan 16,2019
이미지뷰
President of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) Lee Kee-heung stands in front of the press at Seoul Olympic Parktel, southern Seoul, Tuesday to announce KSOC’s plan to deal with sexual assault within Korean sports. [YONHAP]
The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC) President Lee Kee-heung announced a plan aimed at preventing sexual assault in Korean sports after two athletes raised rape allegations against their coaches.

Lee said the KSOC would give up all rights to investigate sexual assault cases. Preliminary investigation of assault allegations will be handed over to neutral third parties, like civic organizations or the Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea.

The KSOC will be responsible for determining the perpetrator’s offenses and penalties according to the investigation results.

After two-time Olympic gold medalist short track skater Shim Suk-hee last week said her coach raped her for years, Shin Yu-yong, a judoka, raised similar accusations Monday, spurring the KSOC’s response.

Lee said he will also make changes to how training centers are run, as well as hire a female deputy director and supervisor to better take care of female athletes.

This comes in response to Shim’s accusation that her coach raped her inside KSOC-operated national training facilities.

“We are deeply sorry for all the troubles that these athletes had to go through on their own,” said Lee. “We would also like to thank them for showing courage and stepping up to share their stories.”

The KSOC took disciplinary action Monday, permanently expelling Cho from its ranks, and is now looking into ways to ensure that he is banned from coaching overseas.

Lee also apologized for the KSOC’s failure to punish past sexual assault incidents and prevent a culture of abuse and violence from developing in Korea’s sporting community.

President Moon Jae-in also weighed in on the issue in a meeting with his top aides Tuesday.

Moon said there was a “need to thoroughly investigate all crimes within a probable range and issue stern punishment accordingly.” The president also suggested a possible reform to how athletes live together with their coaches in the same building complexes during the training period.

However, former officials from the KSOC have also raised concerns about how effective its plan will be.

“After the Cho Jae-beom incident broke out, the KSOC hurried to announce measures while issuing promises to give out stern punishment against offenders,” said a former official from the KSOC in an interview Tuesday.

“However, we must not forget that [the committee members] who would give out the punishments are the same ones who used to shelter the offenders from their wrongdoing.”

In 2015, a coach from the Korea Skating Union was permanently expelled from his position by the KSOC after he was accused of sexual harassment by athletes he trained.

This decision was then quickly reduced to three years of probation after a second disciplinary decision.

“There were rumors that [the coach] lobbied his trouble away, but they were never confirmed,” said the former official.

In 2013, players from the men’s water polo team faced permanent expulsion after they were caught installing a hidden camera in the women’s water polo team’s locker room. The athletes who installed the camera were then welcomed back to their team after three months.

“In order for the sporting community to be completely rid of sexual abuse problems, [related committees that oversee fair practices] should distance themselves from the influence of the athletic community,” said the official. “Only then can fair punishment be given out.”

BY JEONG JU-WON, YONHAP [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]