A former South Korean speed skating coach is sentenced to more than ten years in prison for the sexual assault of an athlete. The accused Cho Jae-beom was found guilty of assaulting double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee.
The athlete had filed a complaint against her former coach in January 2018. The allegations had surfaced during the wake of the #MeToo movement. Many other South Korean athletes had accused their coaches of abuse during this time.
Olympic gold medalist, Shim Suk-hee said that Cho Jae-beom repeatedly assaulted her since her teenage years. The Olympics short-track speed skating champion, Shim also reported that he used to beat her since the age of seven. In fact, he had broken her fingers with an ice hockey stick.
Following her complaint, several other athletes also came forward with their revelations. Eventually, Jae-beom was sentenced to 10 months in jail charged with assault of Suk-hee and three other skaters.
However, in December 2018, 21-year-old Shim Suk-hee filed a fresh complaint accusing the ex-Olympic coach of sexual assault. She recorded in the latest complaint that the sexual assault has started in 2014 when she was still a student. Later, it continued until shortly before the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
This fresh charge of sexual abuse encouraged around 2,50,000 people in South Korea to sign a petition demanding a longer jail term for the accused. The demand did succeed and Cho Jae-beom has now been sent to jail. The court that pronounced his punishment has ordered him to do 200 hours of sexual offender treatment. He is also banned from working with children and youths for seven years.
Meanwhile, Jae-beom denied the allegations of sexual abuse. He admitted to having only committed verbal and physical abuse against the athlete. In his defence he added that the verbal and physical abuse was necessary to ‘discipline’ Shim Suk-hee
The #MeToo movement in South Korea
The movement had sparked in South Korea in 2018 after Prosecuter Seo Ji-hyun accused on television a former South Korean minister of sexual abuse After this revelation, many women in the country came forward and opened up about the injustices they have faced. From political personalities to athletes, masks of several reputed men were taken off.
Another notable incident was when a member of the idol group Apink, Son Na-eun posted a picture of her phone cover that read,’ GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING’. She was brutally criticised then for promoting feminism. Following this event, gender equality became a major issue while promoting #MeToo movement in the country.
Representative feature image