Yu-na hits Yonsei teacher with libel suit

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Yu-na hits Yonsei teacher with libel suit

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Korean figure skating icon Kim Yu-na, 21, takes part in a practice teaching session held at Jinseon Girls’ High School in Gangnam, southern Seoul, on May 8. By Lim Hyun-dong

Korean figure skating icon Kim Yu-na, 21, filed a defamation suit against a professor who described her practice teaching assignments from Korea University as mere performances.

The All That Sports Agency said Wednesday that it filed a libel suit against Professor Hwang Sang-min, 49, of Yonsei University at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday.

On May 22, Hwang appeared on comedian Kim Mi-hwa’s CBS radio program and criticized Kim’s practice teaching, which received huge attention from the public. Kim is studying for a teacher’s degree in physical education at Korea University.

”The practice teaching was nothing but a show performed by a celebrity,” Hwang said during the radio show. “No one can deny that she is a very busy person. I don’t think Yu-na has attended lectures faithfully in last four years and also for the practice teaching. It is very unfair for normal students who must study hard and participate in the practice eaching to earn their degrees because celebrities like Yu-na earn their degrees very easily by showing their face for a few hours at special events.”

Kim, a senior, has been participating in the four-week practice teaching since May 9 at Jinseon Girls’ High School in Gangnam District, southern Seoul.

”We decided to sue the professor because he made up a false story that made the public doubt Yu-na’s academic achievement,” Koo Dong-hoe, the CEO of All That Sports, said. He also said that professors at Yonsei University are disparaging Yuna because of the rivalry between Yonsei and Korea University. Last month, another Yonsei professor criticized Kim’s appearance in a lively beer commercial being shown on television.

”I used Yu-na’s practice teaching case as an example to criticize the current education system at Korean colleges,” Hwang said about the lawsuit. “Colleges and universities attract sports stars and celebrities by offering special admission and use them to improve their reputation. I can’t believe that she filed a lawsuit because celebrities like her must be able to handle social issues that are relevant to them unless she plans on censoring every single remark made about her.”

The controversy over special admissions to colleges for celebrities or sports stars has been going on for decades. Many athletes don’t have to attend lectures or earn grades to get a degree.

“The schools think that if an athlete performs well in his or her sport, that’s the best contribution to a school’s reputation,” said Oh Jae-Keun from the public relations department at Korea National Sport University. “They think of athletes as an advertisement for the school and don’t care about teaching them.”

Kim’s management company said it would withdraw the suit if the professor apologizes.

By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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