Lee Jae-young and Lee Da-young, twin sisters and gamers on South Korea’s nationwide volleyball staff, have left their staff, the Heungkuk Life Insurance coverage Pink Spiders Volleyball Workforce, indefinitely attributable to allegations that they bodily and verbally abused their teammates in center faculty.
In accordance with an article posted by a gaggle of 4 victims on February 10, the Lee sisters threatened teammates with knives when they didn’t observe calls for to run errands for the sisters. In addition they took cash and punched fellow college students whereas whispering insults, and confirmed a sketchbook containing abusive phrases in regards to the victims’ households.
The Lee sisters posted an apology letter on Instagram but it surely was not sufficient to fulfill both the victims of their abuse or society at giant.
The posts revealing the Lee sisters’ historical past of merciless habits towards their teammates opened the floodgates. Since then, increasingly nameless posts by former pupil athletes have been posted on-line alleging previous abuse by different skilled athletes.
Three days after the disclosures of the Lee sisters’ wrongdoings, Music Myung-geun and Shim Kyung-seop, gamers for the OK Monetary Group Okman Volleyball Membership, have been additionally banned from taking part in the remainder of the video games on this season attributable to a submit that accused them of bodily abuse in highschool. They each admitted to the accusations and left the staff.
Park Sang-ha, a participant with the Samsung Fireplace Bluefangs, introduced his sudden and sudden retirement on February 22 attributable to disclosures of his historical past of bodily abuse. At first he denied his accusations, however then admitted to them and determined to retire though there are few video games left earlier than the top of the season. Park insisted that a few of the accusations are usually not true and mentioned he’ll take authorized actions to disclose the reality, triggering public anger and suspicion over the background of his resolution.
Whereas extra volleyball gamers are being accused of bodily abuse, insults, and violence, the Korean Volleyball Federation introduced final week that it’ll completely ban pupil gamers who’ve bodily abused teammates or others from taking part within the draft for the skilled volleyball league. Additionally, it added that it’ll not permit such gamers to be nationwide staff gamers and coaches sooner or later.
Regardless of strikes by each the Korean Volleyball Federation and particular person groups to self-discipline gamers, Koreans and victims alike fear that the Lee sisters and different gamers might come again sooner or later, after the general public consideration has pale.
Lee Sang-yeol, head coach of the KB Insurance coverage Stars Volleyball Membership, is one such cautionary story. Lee bodily abused a participant when he was a coach for the boys’s nationwide volleyball staff in 2009. At the moment, he used violence towards Park Cheol-woo, which was revealed in a dramatic press convention the place Park confirmed accidents and bruises on his face and abdomen.
After the press convention, the Korean Volleyball Affiliation suspended Lee indefinitely, however the punishment was lifted two years later to present another likelihood to Lee, who had been a high-profile member of the nationwide staff up to now. After this resolution, Lee labored as a commentator, college coach, and committee member of the Korean Volleyball Federation for about ten years. Lastly, he was appointed the top coach of the KB Insurance coverage Stars Volleyball Membership final 12 months.
As Lee’s historical past has come into the general public eye as soon as once more, his staff introduced final week that he is not going to coach for the remainder of the season. Park publicly criticized each Lee and his staff final week over the staff’s resolution to rent him given his irresponsible habits. “It was actually exhausting to face Lee in arenas and I felt strain when he provided his hand earlier than the sport,” Park mentioned in an interview with a neighborhood information outlet. He additionally talked about that Lee has by no means apologized to him straight and claimed there are extra gamers whom Lee bodily abused earlier than. Lee mentioned he had not had a possibility to apologize to Park straight however added that he would apologize if and when Park is keen to have a gathering with Lee in particular person.
Final week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested the Ministry of Tradition, Sports activities, and Tourism and associated organizations to make particular efforts to eradicate violence in sports activities, from faculty athletics to the nationwide staff. Nonetheless, consultants say that the deep-seated sports activities elitism that creates a hierarchical system amongst pupil gamers is unlikely to be eliminated by new measures or insurance policies.
“The younger pupil victims can’t report it even when they expertise bodily or verbal due to the worry of counterattack by perpetrators,” Kwak Keum-joo, a professor of psychology at Seoul Nationwide College, advised The Diplomat. Kwak additionally talked about that younger pupil athletes are usually not able to report freely on what they expertise from their teammates given the Korean schooling system. “I feel such circumstances will occur once more sooner or later.”
Regardless that victims have determined to lift their voices, authorized consultants say it might be difficult for them to hunt justice at this level. Because the statute of limitations for assault and verbal abuse is 5 years in Korean legislation, it’s difficult for victims to carry the perpetrators legally accountable. Added to that, the victims could not have clear proof to again up their claims, because the incidents occurred greater than a decade in the past. Because of this, some victims are afraid of being counterattacked by perpetrators or others in a authorized battle, and selected to cover their darkish expertise ceaselessly.
In response to the general public outcry, as of writing, over 137,000 folks have signed a petition to completely expel volleyball gamers who used violence on the presidential Blue Home’s platform. If greater than 200,000 folks signal the petition by March 14, a authorities or Blue Home official must publicly give a response.
Main sports activities leagues have requested groups to have a gathering with every participant to search out out circumstances that haven’t been disclosed but, as increasingly skilled gamers in different sports activities like baseball, hockey, and archery proceed to be accused of bodily and verbal abuse in nameless posts on-line.
“Ask anybody who was a pupil athlete at school. I assure that each pupil athlete has skilled such circumstances due to the strict hierarchical system,” Park In-hyuk, who was an elite soccer participant in highschool, advised The Diplomat. “If you find yourself older than different teammates, you might be allowed to do something you need and it’s a basic explanation for this outdated and mistaken customized.”