Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ask a Korean! News: Korea is a Shining Example of Corruption-Busting. Wait, What?

Well, that's what the New York Times said, at least with respect to soccer:
“Zero tolerance” is the in phrase among sports officials these days.Sepp Blatter of FIFA and Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee speak about it. South Korea practices it.

This past weekend, 10 Korean professional soccer players were banned for life from playing the game. The men, including one former national team player, Kim Dong-hyun, have yet to face criminal prosecution. But the Korea Football Association has banned them anyway.

“We made the decision determined that this would be the first and last match-fixing scandal in the league,” said Kwak Young-cheol, the head of the K-League disciplinary committee.

“Players must keep in mind that they will be kicked out of the sport permanently if they get caught committing wrongdoing.” The 10, and four other men accused of collaborating to fix the outcome of matches for betting purposes, could, if convicted in court, face seven years in jail.

The association, it seems, has concluded their guilt, though Kwak conceded that the life bans would be reviewed if they were cleared in criminal proceedings.

This, remember, is the Republic of Korea — not North Korea.

The K.F.A., the parent body to the 28-year-old K-League, has been built up through its past president, Chung Mong-joon, a leading lawmaker in the National Assembly in Seoul.

Chung was recently deposed as a vice president of FIFA, in part because his straight talk sat uncomfortably with some of the corrupt practices now being unraveled at the top of the world governing body of soccer.
Korea Shows Soccer How to Get Tough [New York times]

Interestingly, there recently was a massive audit of Korean bureaucracy, which uncovered tons of cases of ridiculous, outright corruption on the part of Korean bureaucracy involving money, gifts, alcohol, golf and prostitution from the affected corporations -- you know, the usual. It's nice to see at least some part of Korea being applauded for being tough on corruption.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


  1. Sounds like some lambs were sacrificed in the name of Making Korea Look Good (TM). It's easy to make a big deal of them, since they'll probably never have a chance to share their side of the story - or even a fair day in court.

  2. So, if Korea does nothing about a problem, it's corrupt. If they do something about the problem, they're simply image-conscious nationalists trying to improve the country's image. It was an obvious overreaction that likely ruined a few lives, but I don't think they did it with an eye towards being featured in the New York Times.

    Korea has a deservedly bad reputation for corruption, but it's not otherworldly. It's on par with many European nations.

  3. Mostly, Chris, your comment reveals that there's a way to interpret anything in a negative light. I'm not sure what to make of your pessimism/cynicism.

    Korea's 39th (out of 178 countries) on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index - well above the halfway point, and your home country is only at 22nd, still a ways back of Denmark, Singapore, and New Zealand.

    As another example:

    One hears more reports of doping busts in cycling than any other sport... so does that mean cycling's the most corrupt (doping-wise) or does it mean that cycling's well on its way to being the cleanest sport, because bikers are getting the message that they WILL get caught, and WILL get publicly shamed, if they cheat. Contrast that with NFL Football players, who have a shockingly low life expectancy, can perform feats no 300-pounder should be able to do, but there's NEVER a report of an NFL player busted for doping. Which sport do you think is cleaner?

    The fact corruption is being reported here, and people are facing consequences -- consequences steadily increasing in severity -- isn't cause to sneer; it's cause to be glad this stuff is now in the realm of public discussion, where it used to be covered up quickly and quietly.

  4. Rob-o-SE-yo, I wouldnt say the NFL isnt willing to test players in a different way. The NFL has a policy of suspensions for banned substances. These incidents have hurt players as small as David Vorbora(Rams), the last pick of the draft and huge stars such as Brian Cushing(Texans) both received suspensions for illegal substances. The former though was vindicated through the legal system, the NFL his paying 5.4 million for lost wages, while the "star's" charges still stick. The NFL is working on a comprehensive anti-doping policy, which is one of the reason the lockout is still in place.

  5. In that case, maybe the NFL now is a bad example. How about the NFL before major league baseball had that embarrassing series of doping scandals?


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