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Judo school grapples with allegation’s consequences

Jan 17,2019
Students and staff at one of Korea’s most prestigious judo schools are currently coming to terms with judoka Shin Yu-yong’s allegation that her former coach at the school raped her for years.

After Shin said she was raped while attending Yongsun Middle and High School in an interview with the Hankyoreh newspaper on Monday, questions rose about whether other Yongsun students were sexually abused.

Officials from the North Jeolla Office of Education interviewed students and coaches after the publication of the interview with Shin. No student said they knew of any sexual abuse at the school, which has produced several Olympic medalists, but many said that the situation was uncomfortable for them. The school said that the coach accused of raping Shin was employed from February 2009 to July 2012.

Currently, the school’s judoka team, which consists of seven high school students and nine middle school students, is led by a team of female coaches. All the athletes currently on the judo team enrolled after the accused coach left the school.

“We are worried that students and coaches that have nothing to do with this will be harmed,” said an official from the North Jeolla Office of Education.

According to the education office, Yongsun Middle and High School’s judoka team and coaches still live together in the same complex.

President Moon Jae-in called out this practice in a meeting with his top aides Tuesday.

The school said that providing shared quarters for students and coaches is necessary as some students live far away and need to stay at the school during long training periods.

The education office vowed to open therapy sessions for the school’s judoka team and start a crackdown on possible sexual abuse of young athletes in North Jeolla.

In addition, officials are looking into implementing a one-strike plan, under which coaches would be immediately fired if they are involved in any sexual abuse case.

The North Jeolla Sports Council issued an official apology to Shin and her family members on Tuesday and said it would provide human rights education to coaches and open centers dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of young athletes.

“We will closely cooperate with the North Jeolla Office of Education to create a plan that ensures only properly qualified coaches will be employed for school jobs,” said Choi Hyung-won, the director of the North Jeolla Sports Council.

“We will make sure that all sports associations who knew about any sexual abuse cases but chose to ignore or were silent about them take full responsibility for their actions.”

Shin’s rape case is currently under investigation by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Shin’s former coach has disputed the allegations and said that they were in a consensual relationship.

BY KIM JUN-HEE, JEONG JU-WON [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]