The Korea Herald


Olympic curlers endured abuse by coaches, owed prize money: sports ministry

By Yonhap

Published : Feb. 21, 2019 - 10:36

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The sports ministry concluded on Thursday that former national women's curlers endured abuse by their coaches and have yet to receive a large sum of prize money from competitions.

The ministry announced the findings of its five-week probe, which ran from Nov. 19 to Dec. 21, into allegations raised by members of the Olympic silver medal-winning women's curling team.

Collectively dubbed "Team Kim" after the common surname of all members, the curlers won a surprise silver medal at last year's PyeongChang Winter Olympics, capturing the imagination of a nation largely unfamiliar with the sport. But barely nine months after their Cinderella run, the curlers, led by skip Kim Eun-jung, claimed that they had been subjected to unfair treatment and verbal and emotional abuse by curling coaches and officials.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

The ministry said most of the allegations made by the curlers proved to be true and said the coaches owe nearly 94 million won ($83,590) in prize money to these athletes.

The ministry's probe targeted South Korean curling's royal family of Kim Kyung-doo, former vice president of the Korean Curling Federation. His daughter, Kim Min-jung, was the head coach of the women's team when South Korea won silver at the PyeongChang Winter Games, and her husband, Jang Ban-seok, coached the mixed doubles team at PyeongChang 2018.

The ministry said the Kim family misappropriated some 19 million won of grants from the central government and the North Gyeongsang provincial government. The Kims also attempted to turn the national curling operations into their family business by hiring their relatives into posts for which they were unqualified.

The ministry will ask investigative authorities to look further into the officials' misconduct.

Kim Kyung-doo initially denied these allegations but did an about-face with an apology in early December. He also announced that he and the rest of his family will no longer be involved in curling. (Yonhap)