Athlete involved in drunken collision

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Athlete involved in drunken collision

Former table tennis Olympian Hyun Jung-hwa was processed by police for driving under the influence after being involved in a car accident shortly after midnight yesterday in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, according to the police report.

At the time of the accident, the 45-year-old’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.201 percent, an offense that will see her driver’s license revoked.

Hyun may also face a prison term of up to three years, or a maximum of 10 million won ($9,425) in fines.

Black box footage released yesterday showed the former athlete running a red light and colliding with a taxi at an intersection in Seongnam.

Hyun and the 56-year-old taxi driver were not harmed in the accident; however, the taxi’s 52-year-old passenger sustained injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment, police said.

“We sent Hyun back home because she was too intoxicated,” said a police officer with the Bundang Police Precinct. “We will call her back in for further investigation soon.”

Hyun, the table tennis director for the Korea Racing Authority, is the head of the athlete’s village for the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games, which run from Oct. 18 to 24, following the Incheon Asian Games, and is in charge of managing the competitors and VIPs during the event.

News of the incident prompted the Para Games’ organizing committee yesterday to hold an emergency meeting, which was presided over by Secretary General Seo Jeong-gyu.

Hyun subsequently called the committee and tendered her resignation, and the committee is now looking for a replacement for Hyun.

One of the candidates reportedly being considered for the position is Kim So-yeong, 45, a former artistic gymnast who was paralyzed during a practice session ahead of the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.

“It’s true that a few committee members recommended Kim,” the committee official added, “but we need further discussion on the scope of the athlete village director’s responsibilities.”

Hyun was one of the country’s most popular table tennis athletes in the 1980s and ’90s.

She won her first gold medal in women’s doubles at the 1987 World Table Tennis Championships in New Delhi and competed the next year in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Hyun later became the first Korean to achieve a Grand Slam at the 1993 World Table Tennis Championships.



BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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