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Coach sentenced to seven years for abuse of South Korean athlete who committed suicide

Four men sentenced in abuse case against 22-year-old triathlete

Photo by: World Triathlon

Last July we reported on South Korean triathlete Choi Suk-hyeon’s suicide that was linked to “years of abuse” from coaches and a physical therapist. A member of South Korea’s national triathlon team, Suk-hyeon took her life last June after having complained to the Korean Sport and Olympic Comittee in April, asking for an investigation. The BBC reported that according to her parents she had been “subject to beatings, verbal abuse and harassment by members of the coaching staff.”

Before she made that complaint, though, the Yonhap News Agency reported that she had filed abuse charges against the head coach of her club, a physiotherapist and two older teammates. The Daegu District Public Prosecutors Office began investigating the case.

According to the Firstpost newspaper, last Friday the coach, Kim Gyu-bong, was “sentenced to seven years in jail for physical abuse that it said caused Choi ‘to make a fatal choice at 22.'”

“Choi’s team captain Jang Yun-jung was also jailed for four years and teammate Kim Do-hwan given a suspended term of 18 months,” the newspaper continued.

According to Yonhap news agency, “The accused, abusing their power, verbally and physically assaulted Choi for a long time,” the court ruled. “Even though the accused are showing remorse and seeking forgiveness, she is not able to accept those apologies.”

A week earlier the team physical therapist, Ahn Joo-hyeon. was given an eight-year sentence and fined 10 million won ($11,479) “on charges of fraud, sexual and physical assault, and violation of the Medical Service Act,” Yonhap news agency reported. He is also barred from working with children, youth and disabled people for seven years and has been ordered to do “80 hours of sexual offender treatment.”

Choi Suk-hyeon reportedly left a message for her mother asking that she “expose the crimes of these people.” It has also been reported that she had made audio recordings of the abuse by her coaches.