Shim Suk-hee said Cho used to punch and kick her until “she felt she might die”.
Allegations of abuse and corruption have longed plagued South Korea’s sports community. Similar to what took place in the case of Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics, few victims are willing to speak out.
However, the 21-year-old member of South Korea’ national short-track speedskater team and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Shim Suk-hee recently broke her silence.
According to reports, Shim claims that she’s been repeatedly raped by her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, since she was 17.
Ms. Shim’s claim against Mr. Cho includes past regular inspections of her cellphone and a broken finger when Shim was in the fourth grade. Shim also claimed that Mr. Cho once tinkered with her skate blades in a competition to favor other athletes.
Mr. Cho, 38, was fired as national team coach shortly before the start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last year on allegations of violent abuse against athletes. In September, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for physically assaulting four athletes, including Ms. Shim.
If Ms. Shim’s claims prove to be true, this would just add more fuel to the long-held fiery allegations among sports analysts that South Korea’s fame in short-track speedskating has been built on medieval training regimens that include beating and other forms of violence.
However, Mr. Cho denies raping Ms. Shim. Authorities said they have since confiscated Cho’s cellphone and computers to look for criminal evidence.
Ms. Shim’s accusations against her former coach have since reopened the conversation that surrounds the ethics of the country’s sports community.
“This unveils the humiliating underside of our country’s glorious facade as a sports powerhouse,” President Moon Jae-in said on Monday.
His remarks came as more than 260,000 people signed a petition to his office demanding a longer prison term for Mr. Cho.
Ms. Shim recently testified at Mr. Cho’s appeals trail last month. During the trail, Shim said Mr.Cho used to punch and kick her until “she felt she might die” during training for the Pyeongchang Games. Ms. Shim also claimed that a fall she had during a Pyeongchang competition was because of a concussion she had suffered at Mr. Cho’s hands.
The government has since said it would also open a more comprehensive investigation of sexual crimes in the sports community. They vow to expel perpetrators from the field permanently and to take steps to prevent schools and other teams from hiring them.