4 detained in taekwondo probe
The Korea Taekwondo Association has been controlled by politicians and criminal gangs, prosecutors said yesterday as they wrapped up their investigation of a February 2002 election to pick the association’s chairman. The Seoul District Prosecutors Office said it detained and indicted four suspects on charges of influencing the vote by threatening, and using, violence.
One was Koo Cheon-seo, the association’s chairman and a former United Liberal Democrat lawmaker. Prosecutors said Mr. Koo hired about 300 gang members to stop board members who supported his rival from voting. Only 17 board members who supported Mr. Koo were allowed to vote and he was elected as a result. He also allegedly paid 2.5 million won ($2,000) to association officials who cooperated with the scheme.
Lee Seung-wan, then an adviser to the association and the boss of a nationwide crime ring, was also indicted. Mr. Lee allegedly used violence against a taekwondo instructor who objected to the election and received bribes from taekwondo supply manufacturers. He denied the charge.
“Bosses have influenced the association since the 1990s,” a prosecutor said. “As pressure grew for them to stop doing so, the gangs pooled efforts to make Mr. Koo the association’s chairman.”
by Kim Won-bae, Lee Soo-ki