Taiwanese burn Korean flags over taekwondo

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Taiwanese burn Korean flags over taekwondo

When Taiwanese martial artist Yang Shu-chun was disqualified toward the end of a taekwondo match she was winning last Wednesday at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, some Taiwanese were surprised and disappointed.

Then they got mad, and started burning Korean flags and boycotting Korean products.

Yang was found to have an extra sensor - which are used to register kicks - in each of her socks. The socks had been approved before the match, which made her fans back home cry foul. They are taking their ire out on Korea because it controls the top posts in the body that oversees the sport.

There were also reports, which turned out to be false, that one of the referees was Korean and another was a Filipino of Korean descent. But the technician who noticed the extra sensors was a Korean national.

According to news reports, some people threw eggs at a South Korean school in Taipei on Thursday. An owner of an electronics store in Fengyuan in north-central Taichung County hurled Samsung Electronics plasma televisions on the floor and, with the help of two friends, smashed the television screens with hammers.

Workers at a cosmetics store in Taiwan also threw South Korean products on the floor and stomped on them.

People burned South Korean flags outside Taiwan’s Sports Affairs Council last Thursday after an appeal over Yang’s disqualification was rejected by the Asian Taekwondo Union.

Some Taiwanese are boycotting South Korean goods. Another electronics store owner in Taipei is encouraging his customers not to buy cellular phones from South Korea.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has called for a probe into Yang’s disqualification.

With one Taiwanese sports official already having resigned last week over what is now being called “Sockgate,” Taiwan’s government is trying to calm its people down.

An official at the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday that the Taiwanese government had sent a notice that the disqualification is not related to Korea.

The ministry also said that Seoul’s representative office in Taipei had been told to convey a message to Taiwan’s government.

“Yang’s disqualification at the Asian Games is regrettable, but the burning of Korean flags and boycotting of products that is spreading across the country is something that calls for attention,” the ministry said yesterday.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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