Young Skater Association reveals additional sports #MeToo cases

By Park Ju-young
  • Published : Jan 21, 2019 - 16:01
  • Updated : Jan 21, 2019 - 16:01

The Young Skater Association on Monday raised further allegations of sexual abuse by skating coaches, amid snowballing revelations of #MeToo cases in South Korea’s sports community.

The association held a press conference at the National Assembly on Monday afternoon with Rep. Sohn Hye-won, who had represented the ruling Democratic Party on the parliamentary culture committee. Sohn stepped down from the position and left the party on Sunday over allegations of property speculation in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

Rep. Sohn Hye-won (right) speaks at a press conference at the National Assembly on Monday and revealed additional allegations of sexual misconduct in Korea’s skating community. Yeo Jun-hyung (center), leader of the Young Skater Association, and lawyer Park Ji-hoon (left) are seen in the picture. (Yonhap)

“As the reality of Korea’s skating community has been revealed after the skater Shim Suk-hee filed a sexual assault complaint against her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, the association investigated additional sexual abuse cases (in the sports community), collecting evidence and hearing victims’ testimony,” Sohn said.

The association said it had found five more sexual abuse cases besides Shim’s. Most victims are reluctant to reveal details, saying they fear retaliation or additional harm.

According to Sohn, a former skater who did not want her name made public revealed that she had been subjected to inappropriate behavior multiple times during lessons. The complainant said her coach had hugged her forcibly while correcting her skating posture and kissed her as well. The misconduct continued when she went with the coach to train in other countries, the lawmaker said.

The skater said her coach had lashed out at her when she rejected what she considered inappropriate touching, and that he had tried to interfere with her skating performance during the selection process for the Korean national team. The person dropped out of skating as a result of the incidents, Sohn said, but the coach hadn’t experienced any consequences.

The association also revealed irresponsible behavior on the part of Korea National Sport University professor Jeon Myeong-kyu, known as “the father of the skating community” because he is so influential.

“The victim sent the professor a message, saying, ‘I want to tell you what happened that night,’” in an attempt to report the incidents, Sohn said. “But Jeon replied, ‘I hope you get over it,’” refusing to take the complaint seriously, she alleged.

“The victims are afraid to come forward with their cases as Jeon tries to conceal misconduct by people close to him.”

During the press conference, the association urged the government to carry out a survey of all athletes as soon as possible and suggest detailed plans to root out sexual violence in the sports community, such as revealing perpetrators’ names on sports organizations’ websites or cutting the budgets of organizations where sexual violence is not addressed.

Additionally, the association called for a strict audit of the Korea National Sport University and requested Korean Sport and Olympic Committee Chairman Lee Ki-hong and the committee’s executives to resign their seats to take responsibility for allowing sexual misconduct to occur.

By Park Ju-young (