(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks, details from 5th para; ADDS photo)
SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in called Tuesday for a thorough investigation into the alleged bullying and abuse of a South Korean triathlete by her coaching staff.
Moon was speaking during a weekly Cabinet meeting about the tragic case involving Choi Suk-hyeon, 22, who took her own life late last month after her repeated complaints to sporting authorities over years of abuse were ignored.
"Such an unfortunate incident shouldn't occur again," the president emphasized at the start of the Cheong Wa Dae session, which pool reporters were allowed to cover. "Reasonable punishment and responsibility should follow via a thorough investigation."
He also instructed relevant government offices to draw up measures to prevent a similar case from happening.
South Koreans are outraged over revelations that Choi, a member of the Gyeongju City Hall triathlon team, had long suffered abuse and harsh treatment from her senior colleague and coaching staff. She had reportedly sought help in vain from public organizations, including the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, before taking her own life. Gyeongju is a North Gyeongsang Province city located 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
"Abuse and violence against athletes are an old-era legacy that can't be justified by any words. The sports community should break away from such an obsolete and backward practice," Moon said.
He again mentioned the issue during a closed-door session following the opening remarks he made in public, according to Cheong Wa Dae's deputy spokesman Yoon Jae-kwan.
The president noted that the victims of such abuse or sexual assault in the local sports community are mostly women.
He called on the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to be quick in addressing the problem and especially ordered its female Vice Minister Choi Yoon-hee, who was a swimming star, to "play a bigger role," Yoon said at a press briefing.
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