The head of South Korea’s Olympic sports body Tuesday apologised for a litany of sexual assault cases between young athletes and their coaches and vowed to impose lifetime bans on all offenders.
South Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) President Lee Kee-heung apologised for the “systematic flaw” that failed to prevent repeated misconduct.
The move comes after double Olympic short track gold medallist Shim Suk-hee accused her former coach last week of raping and sexually molesting her multiple times, prompting several other victims to come forward.
Shim filed her complaint against Cho Jae-beom to police last month, on the same day she testified at his appeal against his 10-month jail sentence for physically assaulting her.
Aged 21, the elite athlete has four Olympic medals to her name, including relay golds at both Sochi 2014 and on home ice at last year’s Pyeongchang Games.
Some victims have said that using social media and being able to see the impact of the #MeToo campaign has provided real impetus for some people to come forward and confront their abusers.
The sports stars have been coming forward since the #MeToo campaign kicked off in 2017. And the sheer global impact of #MeToo sexual abuse campaign will affect many more countries in Asia.
The #MeToo movement famously started in the United States where Hollywood was brought to its knees with scandal after scandal coveting some of the biggest profile stars in the industry.
South Korea is a regional sporting power and regularly in the top 10 medal table places at summer and winter Olympics.
But in an already intensely competitive society, winning is everything in its sports community, where coaches hold immense sway over athletes’ careers, and physical and verbal abuse are known to be rife.
In addition, like in other countries in the region, South Korea remains a very conservative society and female sex crime victims can face public shaming as well manipulation into hiding the crimes of influential men in their lives.