Choi Suk-hyeon: South Korean triathlete kills herself 'after abuse'

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Choi Suk-hyeonImage source, News1 Korea
Image caption,
Choi Suk-hyeon is said to have killed herself last week

A young South Korean triathlete has taken her own life after lodging a number of complaints over alleged abuse from her coaching staff.

Choi Suk-hyeon, 22, said she endured years of abuse, but that her complaints to sporting authorities were ignored, reports say. She is reported to have killed herself last week.

She was selected for the national triathlon team in 2015 as a teenager.

A number of sportswomen have reported abuse in South Korea over the years.

Audio tapes released by YTN TV appeared to corroborate allegations by her parents that the triathlete had been subject to beatings, verbal abuse and harassment by members of the coaching staff.

In one recording, a male voice can be heard saying: "You! Come here. Clamp your jaws together," which is followed by the sound of slapping.

In a journal she kept, Choi wrote how she "shed tears every day" and would "rather die" after repeatedly being "beaten like a dog", reports say.

Choi complained to the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) - the country's top governing body for sports - in April, asking for an investigation, AFP news agency reports.

An acquaintance is quoted as telling Yonhap news agency that Choi "sought help from many public institutions, but everyone ignored her pleas".

The KSOC denied it had ignored her complaint, stating in a press release it had assigned a female investigator after receiving her complaint in early April, AFP reports.

"The committee finds it very regrettable that such an incident happened again even as we have been making efforts to prevent violence and sexual assaults and to protect athletes' human rights", it said.

In a statement, the Korea Triathlon Federation promised to take action against the alleged abusers, the South China Morning Post reports.

Other sports affected

There have been other instances of abuse being reported in other parts of the sporting world in South Korea.

Last year, the country's biggest ever sex abuse investigation was launched after several athletes came forward saying they had been physically and sexually abused by their coaches.

Elite female skaters said they had been sexually abused by their coaches and that it was covered up.

Media caption,

'My skating coach sexually abused me'

The year before, former tennis star Kim Eun-hee revealed her tennis coach had been sexually assaulting her since the age of 10. He was later convicted of rape with injury and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

And a former judoka also accused her former high school coach of repeatedly raping her over a period of four years.

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