Choi Suk-hyun’s Suicide Draws Attention to Violence in Sports Industry
Choi Suk-hyun’s Suicide Draws Attention to Violence in Sports Industry
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2020.09.03 15:37
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▲From left: Kim Kyu-bong, Jang Yun-jung, and another triathlete     reported to have used violence / Newsis
▲From left: Kim Kyu-bong, Jang Yun-jung, and another triathlete reported to have used violence / Newsis

 

On June 26, triathlete Choi Suk-hyun chose to leap to death at the age of 22. Before committing suicide, she asked her mother to disclose the crimes of her assailants. The young athlete had withstood constant physical and verbal assault for several years ever since she became part of the triathlon team of Gyeongju City Hall. The team coach, Kim Kyu-bong, and senior athletes, Jang Yun-jung and Kim Do-hwan, were charged with violence, while the so-called team doctor, Ahn Ju-hyeon, who turned out to not have a doctor’s license at all, was also reported for many other types of harassment.
It was revealed that Choi Suk-hyun had called for help multiple times by submitting a petition to the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee and reporting her case to the police, yet her situation had not gotten any better. Even after the reason of her death became widely public, only the assailants were weakly punished, while the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee and the police took no responsibility for their poor investigation. The Choi Suk-Hyun case and other previous sports violence incidents, such as the Cho Jae-beom case and the Lim Hyo-jun case, set the impression to other victims that their situations may only get worse if they report to higher organizations.
To this day, as the Choi Suk-hyun suicide case attests, the sports industry remains vulnerable to violence. Why has this problem been unsolved for such a long time? The main reason is that the sports world is a very record-oriented society. Coaches, fellow athletes, and even the parents of the athlete directly involved stand by silently if his or her records are satisfactory. Inevitably, the safety of athletes is neglected. Another reason is that many coaches hold absolute dominance within teams and have the wrong perception that violence is a way of discipline. Unfortunately, many athletes are taught that they should obey the coach’s words under all circumstances from a young age. As these misguided children grow up to become amateur athletes, professionals, and eventually coaches, corrupt practices are repeated all over again. Correspondingly, Joo Seong-taek, executive committee member of the Civic Network for Justice in Sport, asserted, “a major shift in the paradigm of sports policy is urgently needed.”


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