Koreans Accuse London Olympics of Bias After Controversial Loss

South Korean fencer Shin A Lam sits in protest at loss

The reaction to South Korean fencer Shin A Lam’s loss in the semifinals of the women’s individual epee at the London 2012 Olympics has been swift and absolute. Shin’s controversial loss, which came amid ambiguous circumstances, and the image of her weeping in the middle of the arena are considered to be yet another offense against South Korea caused by flawed rulings during the 2012 London Olympics.

Numerous comments and articles have counted three other episodes during the Olympic games so far in which official rulings had complicated if not prevented South Korean wins:

  1. During a football match Sunday against South Korea, Michel Morganella made what was called a ‘Hollywood’ attempt to pull a foul by toppling over next to South Korean player Park Chu-Young. Park was given a yellow card, while Morganella was later expelled for tweeting the racist comment “South Koreans are mentally handicapped retards,” adding fuel to fire to an already hurt Korean national pride.
  2. At the judo men’s 66kg quarterfinals, South Korean judoka Cho Jun-Ho’s victory was overturned on appeal from his Japanese opponent.
  3. During the 400 meters freestyle final, South Korean swimmer Park Tae-Hwan was initially disqualified for leaving the starting blocks early, although he was reinstated on appeal.

In editorials, breakdowns of the reasons behind the numerous judgments against Korean athletes run from corruption among judges to plots by European countries to drive up their medal count at the expense of weaker nations.

Strong reactions, including talk of a boycott for the remainder of the Olympics, reference the feeling that Korea has been a ‘pushover’ when it comes to international competitions and is not being treated with respect. In general, the targets are the judges and officials at the Olympics, not one country in particular. Resentment has been aggravated by the fact that the judgments against South Korean athletes have often been to the benefit of Western athletes.

The BBC has also come under attack for having tweeted:

Shin A Lam is beaten in the bronze medal match of the women’s individual epee by China’s Sun Yujie. Lost, protested. Lost again.

which became headline news in Korea and a special feature on Nate. Media and netizens called the tweet ‘sarcastic’ and an additional insult to Shin.

The 2012 London Olympics are not the first time that South Koreans have protested perceived bias during Olympic events. Apolo Ohno is infamous for his slights against South Korea’s short track speed skating team. Even earlier, South Koreans had protested bias in decisions at boxing events in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

South Korea has not been the only country to lodge appeals during the current Olympics, British gymnasts and an Indian boxer have also tried to overturn officials’ rulings.

From eDaily Star:

‘The Frozen Second’ Shin A Lam in Tears at Botched Ruling

Rising Olympic fencing star Shin A Lam, aged 26 from the city of Gyeryong, suffered an unfair defeat on the verge of victory.

On July 31st (Korean time), Shin, ranked 12th in the world, faced off against Britta Heidemann in the London ExCeL South Arena semifinals for the women’s individual epee. After the close match went into overtime, Shin unfortunately gave up the winning point to her opponent with just one second left on the clock. But Shin’s loss was the result of a botched ruling that defies understanding.

South Korean fencer Shin A Lam

In the first round of the match, Shin gave up two points to Heidemann but then scored a point of her own. With the score at 2-1, Shin began the second round moving more conservatively than she had in the first.

In the second and third rounds, both athletes failed to gain an advantage. After trading points back and forth, the score stood at a level 5-5 in the third round with 30 seconds left to go.

During the final clash, instead of a preemptive strike, Shin concentrated on careful defense. The tied score at the end of the round meant that the match would continue into overtime.

During overtime, the first person to land a clean point wins. Shin successfully landed six strikes, however, they were each ruled to be invalid as Heidemann had struck at the same time.

With just one second remaining, the round resumed and Heidemann was able to successfully strike her opponent. If the game ended with the score locked at 5-5, then Shin, having been randomly assigned a point advantage before overtime started, would have won.

However, the game resumed after Heidemann landed her point, despite the fact that one second had clearly expired. Looking at the clock in the arena, it still registered one second remaining in the match. There was a problem with the timekeeping.

Shin had clearly received an unfair judgment. Naturally, the South Korean coaching staff immediately lodged a complaint. Shin A Lam began to cry tears of injustice. Officials accepted the Korean complaint and reviewed the video footage.

After a prolonged review of the video and consultation amongst the judges, the final announcement came down that it was Heidemann who was the victor. Leaping for joy, Heidemann ran out of the arena with a happy heart at lightning speed. All the while, Shin stayed in the arena, weeping. According to fencing regulations, remaining in the arena is an indication of appeal to a ruling.

Once again, in what should have been the most fair and accurate of venues, a Korean athlete suffered a botched ruling that should never have happened.

Comments from Daum (1 & 2):


A fencing match where it was judged that not a single second passed while two fencers exchanged a full three blows. A football player draws a yellow card for a foul with a ridiculous move. A judo match where a unanimous 3-0 victory decision by the judges is turned into a unanimous 3-0 defeat. This is clearly an Olympics gone mad.


I can’t say anything but fuck this. And I’ve already said it many times. Pull out and boycott


The worst Olympics. In the future let’s not participate


We cross national borders and constantly receive botched rulings, all without a reply. This is so unfair


I felt so sad seeing Shin unable to leave the arena…


Those Europeans must have thought of South Korea as such a pushover…Korean officials really need to take a look at themselves


Lee Myung-bak, born in Osaka and resident of Gyeongsang Province, has definitely finished making our country into a global laughingstock [Note: comment is implying that President Lee’s Japanese birth has affected his policies]


These Olympics are a mess. Boycott and come home. Fuck


How does one second turn into one minute!! Those dumb son of a bitch judges


Come on Korea, is this a joke?.. What’s going on.. swimming, judo, now fencing. Isn’t this enough?..goddamn what kind of Olympics is this

the one:

Boycott the Olympics. That is the only thing that can save the Olympic Spirit


We liked and were played by the supposed country of gentlemen If these foul Yankee bastards were going to work everything out amongst themselves then what is the point of going to the Olympics. Shit I’m never going to watch the Olympics. Filthy, disgraceful, unfair, I’m furious. These scheming Yankee bastards


What bastard made this Olympic Spirit? Screw him and make a change. Dammit why? This kind of thing only ever happens to our country. In any case, good luck South Korean team


The chairman of the world fencing federation [email protected]
The vice-chairman [email protected]
The German on the board of the European Fencing Federation [email protected]
The corrupt Austrian judge http://www.facebook.com/barbara.csar
The German player who had no remorse http://www.facebook.com/britta.heidemann


Our nation owes you an apology. Stay strong…


Those insane judge bitches, they replay twice and say that one second is left and then say it’s over on the third time? What! The incredible arrogance of white people. At the swimming match when the American swimmer hit the water first, that was clearly where the corruption started. The judges suddenly looked over to the control box and inspected the electrical wiring. Colonial rule through fraud and trickery, those white bastards from developed countries have certainly shown some impressive skill at the London Olympics.. Those fucking white bastards! Did you see? White bastards will always racially discriminate.. but then, just take a look in the mirror as we suck up to these white bastards.!!!!


Shin A Lam.. to be honest I don’t have much interest in fencing and I only really remember Nam Hyun Hee…You weren’t able to get a medal but you are a real winner,,, we will remember you as the best fencer..you did well

South Korean fencer Shin A Lam cries at controversial loss

From Chosun Ilbo:


They keep ruining events with South Korean athletes like this. Just boycott and come home, then the Olympics will be shamed and London will be shamed. This is very organized manipulation on the part of the judges and calculated neglect on the part of Europe toward weaker nations.


Every day another botched judgement. And only to the disadvantage of our country. They bring people who can’t even stop a watch correctly, the officials in charge are pitiful. If the purpose is a gentlemanly game then what can we do about the power of judges… while the whole world is watching… We will be forever unwelcome


I had no idea that one second was so long for Europeans. Such a long long one second… Dragging on as long as the European financial crisis. From the bottom of my heart I hope that they suffer an economic failure and live for a very very long time in awful poverty.

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