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What I Learned – South Korea’s Speedskating Community Faces Reckoning After Rape Allegations

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Mr. Moon called for a thorough investigation, urging his government to help other victims feel safe enough to speak out.

His remarks came as more than 260,000 people signed a petition to his office demanding a longer prison term for Mr. Cho.

Mr. Moon’s government was caught off guard by Ms. Shim’s allegations.

Only hours before Ms. Shim’s accusations were first reported in the local news media last Tuesday, the country’s Korean Sport and Olympic Committee reported making strong progress in its campaign to protect athletes against sexual and other types of abuse. In a survey of 1,201 athletes, including all 791 national team members, the committee said it had found only four cases of sexual violence. In a similar survey in 2010, almost 27 percent of respondents reported sexual abuse.

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Ms. Shim outside the Suwon District Court, south of Seoul, the capital, in December.CreditYonhap/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The government said it would open a more comprehensive investigation of sexual crimes in the sports community, vowing to expel perpetrators from the profession permanently and take steps to prevent schools and other teams from hiring them.

“One of the problems has been that the perpetrators were not properly punished and they often returned to their old jobs,” Vice Sport Minister Roh Tae-kang said last week.

Encouraged by Ms. Shim’s accusations, a former judo player named Shin Yoo-yong, 24, publicly accused her former coach of repeatedly raping her since she was a high school student. Her coach had once tried to silence her with a $445 payoff after his wife began suspecting him of having a sexual relationship with her, Ms. Shin said in a Facebook post and in an interview with the Hankyoreh newspaper published on Monday.

The police said they were investigating the case.

Solidarity for Young Skaters, a group of current and former ice skaters and coaches, said at least two other victims planned to speak in public. Other victims of sexual violence were afraid to speak out because whistle-blowers in the past had been vilified and ostracized in their profession, which is ruled by a rigid, hierarchical relationship between coaches and athletes, said the group’s leader, Yeo Jun-hyung, a former national team coach.


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