Tennis player opens up about the abuse of South Korea's young athletes

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
Published by TennisTemple.com Rédaction, Thursday 07/19/18 07:12

When Kim Eun-hee was 10 years old, a primary school child with dreams of tennis stardom, her coach ***** her for the first time. Then he did it again. And again. And again.

The would-be South Korean champion was too young to even know what sex was. But she knew she dreaded the repeated orders to come to his room at their training camp, the pain and the humiliation.

"It took me years to realise that it was rape," Kim told AFP, adding: "He kept raping me for two years... he told me it was a secret to be kept between him and me."

Now 27, Kim spoke to international media for the first time and waived all rights to anonymity to reveal how female athletes in the South have silently suffered sexual abuse by their coaches.

South Korea is perhaps best known for its technological prowess and K-pop stars, but is also a regional sporting power and besides Japan is the only Asian country to have hosted both summer and winter Olympics.

Despite its relatively small size and population, South Korea is regularly in the top 10 medal table places at both Games, and is globally dominant in archery, taekwondo and short-track speed skating, while packing the top positions in world women's golf rankings.

But it remains hierarchical and patriarchal in many respects, including a close-knit, male-dominated sports establishment -- where personal connections can be almost as important as performances in forging a successful career.

In a highly competitive society where winning is everything, many young athletes forego schooling or live away from families to train with their peers and coaches full-time, living in a dorm-like environment for years.

The training camp system -- akin to models used by Communist sporting machines such as China -- is credited with helping the South punch well above its weight on the global sporting stage.

But it has proven to be the setting for abuse in several sports -- especially of underage athletes whose existence is controlled by their trainers.

"The coach was the king of my world, dictating everything about my daily life from how to exercise to when to sleep and what to eat," said Kim, adding that he beat her repeatedly as part of "training".

The coach was eventually dismissed after some parents complained of his "suspicious behaviour", but was simply moved to another school with no criminal inquiry.

- Blind eye -

Many victims are forced into silence in a world where going public often means the end of any aspirations to stardom.

"This is a community where those who speak out are ostracised and bullied as 'traitors' who brought shame to the sport," said Chung Yong-chul, sports psychology professor at Seoul's Sogang University.

A 2014 survey commissioned by the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee showed that around one in seven female athletes had experienced sexual abuse in the previous year, but 70 percent of them did not seek help of any kind.

"Parents of many underage victims give up pressing charges after a sport official, usually a friend of the abuser, tells them, 'Do you wanna see your child's future as an athlete destroyed?'" said Chung Hee-joon, a prominent commentator on sporting issues.

At the same time, sporting organisations often try to hush up misbehaviour, merely transferring the offender to a new institution, he added, blaming the country's elitist sports culture.

"Sports associations turn a blind eye as long as the sex abusers manage to produce high-performing athletes in this blind pursuit of medals above all -- and their abuses are considered a small, insignificant price to pay in this process," Chung said.

In 2015, a former short-track Olympic champion was only fined for repeatedly groping female skaters he was coaching at the Hwaseong City team and sexually harassing an 11-year-old.

Even top athletes have been affected.

Choi Min-suk, the coach of the women's curling team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, resigned after the players accused him of sexual harassment -- but he was later hired to coach another curling team.

Abuse can sometimes be physical, rather than sexual.

Earlier this year, Shim Suk-hee, a star short-track skater who has won four Olympic medals -- including a relay gold at this year's Pyeongchang Games -- accused her coach of punching and kicking her dozens of times, leaving her needing medical treatment for a month.

Cho Jae-beom admitted to police that he beat Shim and other national team skaters at their training camp to "improve their performance".

- 'My rapist continued to coach' -

Kim won a women's doubles bronze at the South’s national sports festival but was always nauseated by players panting heavily on court, a sound that reminded her of her abuser.

Even so, she continued to play tennis and ran into the man at a tournament two years ago, bringing back the trauma and nightmares of her youth, when she regularly dreamed he was trying to kill her.

"I was horrified to see that my rapist continued to coach young tennis players for more than a decade as if nothing had happened," she said.

"I thought to myself, 'I'm not going to give him any chance to abuse little girls any more'."

She filed a criminal complaint against him, and he was subsequently charged.

Four of her friends testified about abuses they had suffered at his hands and Kim took the stand herself, although she could not bear to face him and exercised her right to have him removed from the room.

In the same vein, she stood just outside the court in October to hear him convicted of rape with injury and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"I kept crying and crying, overcome with all these emotions from sadness to happiness," she said.

Now retired from competition, Kim teaches tennis to young children at a city gym.

"Seeing them laughing and enjoying playing tennis heals me," she said.

"I want them to become happy athletes, unlike me," she added.

"What's the point of winning Olympic medals and becoming a sports star if you have to be constantly beaten and abused to get there?"
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
A 2014 survey commissioned by the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee showed that around one in seven female athletes had experienced sexual abuse in the previous year,
Any idea how this compares to the population as a whole? Do female athletes experience sexual abuse at a higher rate than female non-athletes that are in other ways similar (socio-economic, etc).

My understanding of South Korea is that this isn't confined to female athletes and it isn't clear to me that they experience the type of abuse described at a higher rate than others (but I have nothing to back up this assertion but "some stuff I read", which may or may not be an accurate picture, I really don't know).

I'd further suggest that this is "natural" when adults are placed in positions of trust over children. Teachers, religious authority, coaches, Boy Scout leaders, etc. Most of them will be "good people". But, there will always be those that misuse / abuse their position of trust to satisfy their own ends / desires.

And none of this is exclusive or peculiar to South Korea.
 
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Raining hopes

Hall of Fame
Any idea how this compares to the population as a whole? Do female athletes experience sexual abuse at a higher rate than female non-athletes that are in other ways similar (socio-economic, etc).

My understanding of South Korea is that this isn't confined to female athletes and it isn't clear to me that they experience the type of abuse described at a higher rate than others (but I have nothing to back up this assertion but "some stuff I read", which may or may not be an accurate picture, I really don't know).

I'd further suggest that this is "natural" when adults are placed in positions of trust over children. Teachers, religious authority, coaches, Boy Scout leaders, etc. Most of them will be "good people". But, there will always be those that misuse / abuse their position of trust to satisfy their own ends / desires.

And none of this is exclusive or peculiar to South Korea.

There are always two Facts about these things

1) It happens everywhere

2) IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ANYONE.

To take away innocence from a child is probably the greatest crime one can commit.It basically destroys/scars/hurts an entire life and those related to the victim.



I don't know why but I have always felt people become a tad bit tolerant of this thing because"it happens a lot".

But that should never ever matter.Nobody gets the right to burn somebody's soul like this.


Can't get to all to punish them but those who do get caught must be subjected highest criminal punishment available in. a country.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
There are always two Facts about these things

1) It happens everywhere

2) IT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO ANYONE.

To take away innocence from a child is probably the greatest crime one can commit.It basically destroys/scars/hurts an entire life and those related to the victim.



I don't know why but I have always felt people become a tad bit tolerant of this thing because"it happens a lot".

But that should never ever matter.Nobody gets the right to burn somebody's soul like this.


Can't get to all to punish them but those who do get caught must be subjected highest criminal punishment available in. a country.
So if I understand you correctly, you aren’t in favor of sexual abuse?

That’s certainly an unusual stance. I’ll have to give it some thought
 

Raining hopes

Hall of Fame
So if I understand you correctly, you aren’t in favor of sexual abuse?

That’s certainly an unusual stance. I’ll have to give it some thought

Err completely misread your comments as stating that it hapened everywhere and thus a lower offence.


Would have re read it but no one knows with this forum,just now there is thread here where people are talking about how they would have tried "it" with Their siblings
 

fireandwind

Hall of Fame
Published by TennisTemple.com Rédaction, Thursday 07/19/18 07:12

When Kim Eun-hee was 10 years old, a primary school child with dreams of tennis stardom, her coach ***** her for the first time. Then he did it again. And again. And again.

The would-be South Korean champion was too young to even know what sex was. But she knew she dreaded the repeated orders to come to his room at their training camp, the pain and the humiliation.

"It took me years to realise that it was rape," Kim told AFP, adding: "He kept raping me for two years... he told me it was a secret to be kept between him and me."

Now 27, Kim spoke to international media for the first time and waived all rights to anonymity to reveal how female athletes in the South have silently suffered sexual abuse by their coaches.

South Korea is perhaps best known for its technological prowess and K-pop stars, but is also a regional sporting power and besides Japan is the only Asian country to have hosted both summer and winter Olympics.

Despite its relatively small size and population, South Korea is regularly in the top 10 medal table places at both Games, and is globally dominant in archery, taekwondo and short-track speed skating, while packing the top positions in world women's golf rankings.

But it remains hierarchical and patriarchal in many respects, including a close-knit, male-dominated sports establishment -- where personal connections can be almost as important as performances in forging a successful career.

In a highly competitive society where winning is everything, many young athletes forego schooling or live away from families to train with their peers and coaches full-time, living in a dorm-like environment for years.

The training camp system -- akin to models used by Communist sporting machines such as China -- is credited with helping the South punch well above its weight on the global sporting stage.

But it has proven to be the setting for abuse in several sports -- especially of underage athletes whose existence is controlled by their trainers.

"The coach was the king of my world, dictating everything about my daily life from how to exercise to when to sleep and what to eat," said Kim, adding that he beat her repeatedly as part of "training".

The coach was eventually dismissed after some parents complained of his "suspicious behaviour", but was simply moved to another school with no criminal inquiry.

- Blind eye -

Many victims are forced into silence in a world where going public often means the end of any aspirations to stardom.

"This is a community where those who speak out are ostracised and bullied as 'traitors' who brought shame to the sport," said Chung Yong-chul, sports psychology professor at Seoul's Sogang University.

A 2014 survey commissioned by the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee showed that around one in seven female athletes had experienced sexual abuse in the previous year, but 70 percent of them did not seek help of any kind.

"Parents of many underage victims give up pressing charges after a sport official, usually a friend of the abuser, tells them, 'Do you wanna see your child's future as an athlete destroyed?'" said Chung Hee-joon, a prominent commentator on sporting issues.

At the same time, sporting organisations often try to hush up misbehaviour, merely transferring the offender to a new institution, he added, blaming the country's elitist sports culture.

"Sports associations turn a blind eye as long as the sex abusers manage to produce high-performing athletes in this blind pursuit of medals above all -- and their abuses are considered a small, insignificant price to pay in this process," Chung said.

In 2015, a former short-track Olympic champion was only fined for repeatedly groping female skaters he was coaching at the Hwaseong City team and sexually harassing an 11-year-old.

Even top athletes have been affected.

Choi Min-suk, the coach of the women's curling team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, resigned after the players accused him of sexual harassment -- but he was later hired to coach another curling team.

Abuse can sometimes be physical, rather than sexual.

Earlier this year, Shim Suk-hee, a star short-track skater who has won four Olympic medals -- including a relay gold at this year's Pyeongchang Games -- accused her coach of punching and kicking her dozens of times, leaving her needing medical treatment for a month.

Cho Jae-beom admitted to police that he beat Shim and other national team skaters at their training camp to "improve their performance".

- 'My rapist continued to coach' -

Kim won a women's doubles bronze at the South’s national sports festival but was always nauseated by players panting heavily on court, a sound that reminded her of her abuser.

Even so, she continued to play tennis and ran into the man at a tournament two years ago, bringing back the trauma and nightmares of her youth, when she regularly dreamed he was trying to kill her.

"I was horrified to see that my rapist continued to coach young tennis players for more than a decade as if nothing had happened," she said.

"I thought to myself, 'I'm not going to give him any chance to abuse little girls any more'."

She filed a criminal complaint against him, and he was subsequently charged.

Four of her friends testified about abuses they had suffered at his hands and Kim took the stand herself, although she could not bear to face him and exercised her right to have him removed from the room.

In the same vein, she stood just outside the court in October to hear him convicted of rape with injury and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"I kept crying and crying, overcome with all these emotions from sadness to happiness," she said.

Now retired from competition, Kim teaches tennis to young children at a city gym.

"Seeing them laughing and enjoying playing tennis heals me," she said.

"I want them to become happy athletes, unlike me," she added.

"What's the point of winning Olympic medals and becoming a sports star if you have to be constantly beaten and abused to get there?"
Wow I didn't know this.
Korean and Japanese culture is male dominance for centuries. Women was submissive all aspect of life in the past but nowadays it no longer exist except older generations.
It is tragedy that young girls were abused. For past centuries, teachers were also very powerful and they abused their student with corporal punishment and it was accepted by parents. But that also no longer accepted.
Korea was one of the third world countries( developing countries) even 30 - 40 years ago. Now it is top 12 economy in the world and also the culture and custom has been improved or adapted to western world.
 

Big_Dangerous

Talk Tennis Guru
Wow I didn't know this.
Korean and Japanese culture is male dominance for centuries. Women was submissive all aspect of life in the past but nowadays it no longer exist except older generations.
It is tragedy that young girls were abused. For past centuries, teachers were also very powerful and they abused their student with corporal punishment and it was accepted by parents. But that also no longer accepted.
Korea was one of the third world countries( developing countries) even 30 - 40 years ago. Now it is top 12 economy in the world and also the culture and custom has been improved or adapted to western world.
Pretty much all of Asia.
 

donquijote

Legend
Even in today's Japan, nearly every female is harassed by males in public transportation, at work, home etc.
Women are also second class and can't get to the top in anything in the society.
This is a fact. As much as I like so many things about Japanese culture, I hate how they threat their women.
 

Bartelby

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm sure it is worse in Asia, but let us not get so smug that we forget, for example, the horrendous scandals that have engulfed American swimming and gymnastics.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Before I start let me say for the record I haven't stayed in the Land of the Morning Calm for an extended period since 1994 or so, but I'm quite confident that as in other (East) Asian countries authority in Korea is still not something to be challenged lightly. And if respect for the elders is generally regarded as a virtue in the West it is of the utmost importance in South Korea (you can imagine how much more so in the North). Case in point: the Korean language requires a separate set of honorifics when addressing one's social superiors or strangers, and violating these speech codes without permission - unsurprisingly those who are older are usually allowed to use less formal forms of address after getting acquainted, while the same largely remains a no-no for their juniors no matter how long and how close the relationship - can get you in major trouble. As you may imagine that effect is magnified at school or at work where the social hierarchy is virtually sacrosanct.

And I can assure you the physical abuse is (or at least used to be) very real. In fact I once saw firsthand a student sulking and mouthing off to a teacher who dealt with his anger by... taking the troublemaker out to the hallway and repeatedly assaulting him. And when I say assault I don't mean a slap or even a mild lashing, but hard punches, kicks to the ground and all that jazz - the kind of physical abuse that would almost certainly have the teacher face charges in the US. Granted the youngster was a certified punk and I believe eventually expelled after knifing a classmate in a fight and especially for insulting another teacher (which BTW should tell you how powerful the social hierarchy is - violence between students may be condoned but God help you if you disrespect your teachers) - but that kind of brutality on kids is absolutely uncalled for no matter what the circumstances.

My (admittedly few) Korean friends tell me things have gotten better but I doubt all that much. And as a male (here I fully acknowledge my privilege) I shudder to think what kind of indignities Korean girls and women must endure to climb the social ladder.

Speaking of which....

Wow I didn't know this.
Korean and Japanese culture is male dominance for centuries. Women was submissive all aspect of life in the past but nowadays it no longer exist except older generations.
It is tragedy that young girls were abused. For past centuries, teachers were also very powerful and they abused their student with corporal punishment and it was accepted by parents. But that also no longer accepted.
Korea was one of the third world countries( developing countries) even 30 - 40 years ago. Now it is top 12 economy in the world and also the culture and custom has been improved or adapted to western world.
I don't know where you got your impression from but as somebody who still goes back to that part of the world occasionally I assure you patriarchy is alive and well in both Korea and Japan. (For one thing abortion remains in both countries a social and legal obstacle.) In fact I seriously doubt there's any culture in our "civilized" world that doesn't favor men one way or another, that's just a simple fact of life that nobody but the incels and their obnoxious brethren can deny.

You're right about the South Korean economy whose meteoric rise has indeed been amazing, but it has come at a heavy cost: its secondary education is basically a 24/7 boot camp, where the students stay in school well into the evening and are expected to continue their rote memorization afterwards in a library or learning center before getting ready to repeat the same tedious process the next day, because you need to ace that big exam to get into an elite college and entering that rarefied network of power players/brokers is considered an absolute must for success. And before you respond by pointing to our own Ivy League elites consider these two more things: 1) extracurricular activities in SK high schools are regarded as hobbies to be shunned rather than as an important factor in your college admission and 2) college is treated as party time compared to the grinding book learning that informs much of the country's secondary ed.

Simply put education is much more free and organic over here in the US, and while I've seen its ups and downs - for one thing our smart students are wicked smart while our dimmer students are depressingly dim - and our rugged individualism is seen by most progressives as a sign of selfishness, having experienced the two extremes I much prefer our decentralized (relatively speaking, of course) system to SK's rigid assembly line which may lead to impressive scores but provide little room for creativity and enlightenment. That's why I tend to think Korea may hit its economic ceiling sooner than most observers expect, unless the educators come to their senses and allow the students more time to explore options, academic or not. There are signs the bigwigs are starting to recognize something's gotta give - schools are now closed on Saturday across the country, for one thing - but last I heard the boot-camp culture has barely budged, and until they drop their myopic obsession with grades and adopt more comprehensive criteria for higher education as with American colleges and universities I doubt meaningful changes will be forthcoming. (Obviously there are lessons here for the US as well, given our own growing fixation on scores which sadly most of the otherwise laudable charter school movement tends to miss or ignore.)
 

Subway Tennis

Hall of Fame
Even in today's Japan, nearly every female is harassed by males in public transportation, at work, home etc.
Women are also second class and can't get to the top in anything in the society.
This is a fact. As much as I like so many things about Japanese culture, I hate how they threat their women.
Are you based in Japan at the moment? I have a friend who works in the banking system in Japan and some of the stories of the modern workplace environment she endures are highly alarming.

I'm sure it is worse in Asia, but let us not get so smug that we forget, for example, the horrendous scandals that have engulfed American swimming and gymnastics.
Agree. And athletics at the high school level and also U.S. college team sports.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I'm sure it is worse in Asia, but let us not get so smug that we forget, for example, the horrendous scandals that have engulfed American swimming and gymnastics.
Glass houses, right?

I wouldn't get too outraged at what is happening anywhere else until someone finally stops Catholic priests from doing the nasty in the US.
 

Bartelby

Talk Tennis Guru
I would have thought that has, indeed, been largely stopped. It's a scandal in Australia too, but most cases are decades old or 'historical', as they say.

Glass houses, right?

I wouldn't get too outraged at what is happening anywhere else until someone finally stops Catholic priests from doing the nasty in the US.
 

Steady Eddy

Hall of Fame
Glass houses, right?

I wouldn't get too outraged at what is happening anywhere else until someone finally stops Catholic priests from doing the nasty in the US.
I don't think the point is "My country is better than your country." What the OP was about is sad to read.

Personally, I don't care too much about what the greatest athletes accomplish. Sports are for fun, not to create some pressure cooker atmosphere. Let's boycott the Olympics and professional sports. It's a big bowl of bad stuff.
 

Stretchy Man

Professional
Even in today's Japan, nearly every female is harassed by males in public transportation, at work, home etc.
Women are also second class and can't get to the top in anything in the society.
This is a fact. As much as I like so many things about Japanese culture, I hate how they threat their women.
Absolute dribble. The leader of the opposition was a woman. Do you have any evidence of these "facts"?

Not even sure what Japan has to do with this thread. :confused:
 

Bartelby

Talk Tennis Guru
But it may have got to the point where it's not too different from the general culture and, in any event, the Church is now rather less powerful and much better managed now.

They have to be because severe penalties will befall them.

I don't wish to spread blame but this seems to have been a somewhat Irish Catholic problem, and by that I mean the Irish diaspora in the new world.

Emphasis on "largely".

If it's 1% of what it used to be, it's still too much.
 

donquijote

Legend
Absolute dribble. The leader of the opposition was a woman. Do you have any evidence of these "facts"?

Not even sure what Japan has to do with this thread. :confused:
Pakistan had a female prime minister. Enough said.
If you google, you'll find lots of evidence. My friend's daughter worked in Japan.
Japan is related because other posters also mentioned other countries/Asia and it's good to talk about women's rights in general.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
I don't wish to spread blame but this seems to have been a somewhat Irish Catholic problem, and by that I mean the Irish diaspora in the new world.
Issues like this are tailor made to criticize any group you don't like. Easy to find examples of Asians, Catholics, coaches, teachers, boy scout leaders, Mormons, gays, ....... pretty much any group you can think of, where someone affiliated with the group (in a position of authority) has abused young girls or boys or women or whomever.

The more interesting question for me is, why a person chooses to spotlight the particular group they do for (this type of) wrongdoing, when they could find examples from any group.

So, why doesn't the OP like South Koreans? Why doesn't Bartelby like Irish Catholics? Why did you choose these groups instead of bringing up abuses by leading Democrats for example (yes, I'm sure I could find examples without much effort).
 

Bartelby

Talk Tennis Guru
I see that you are now into defensiveness and conspiracy theories. This has become clearer over time after you gave up the rather harmless 'bacon' refrain.

Issues like this are tailor made to criticize any group you don't like. Easy to find examples of Asians, Catholics, coaches, teachers, boy scout leaders, Mormons, gays, ....... pretty much any group you can think of, where someone affiliated with the group (in a position of authority) has abused young girls or boys or women or whomever.

The more interesting question for me is, why a person chooses to spotlight the particular group they do for (this type of) wrongdoing, when they could find examples from any group.

So, why doesn't the OP like South Koreans? Why doesn't Bartelby like Irish Catholics? Why did you choose these groups instead of bringing up abuses by leading Democrats for example (yes, I'm sure I could find examples without much effort).
 
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