South Korean fans shower Canadian skater with threats, abuse after Olympic controversy

The results of the women’s short track speed skating 500-meter final at the 2018 Winter Olympics were a story by themselves. Italy’s Arianna Fontana, who entered her fourth Olympic Games with five medals but no golds, finally stood atop the podium.

But the photo finish that handed her victory wasn’t even the most dramatic aspect of Tuesday’s race.

South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong, the 19-year-old home-crowd favorite, barely lost out to Fontana. But the teenager’s skate was at worst admirable, and at best heroic despite defeat. A silver medal on home soil was something to be proud of.

But race officials didn’t just take their time reviewing the photo finish. They deliberated for a while before deciding to disqualify Choi for interference. The Korean crowd, which had been chanting Choi’s name, fell into stunned silence.

And then disbelief turned to anger. Why had Choi been penalized, especially if she was the one who had seemingly been pushed by Canada’s Kim Boutin earlier in the race?

Nobody was quite sure. Korean fans fumed:

Some also pointed out an incident between Choi and Fontana:

But Boutin, who ended up on the medal stand despite finishing fourth, became a convenient and unfortunate subject of fans’ anger. She became the villain.

Korean fans flooded to Boutin’s latest Instagram post, from a day earlier. The post quickly accumulated over 13,000 comments in a matter of hours, many of them in Korean.

Boutin has since protected her account by making it private, but here’s a sampling of the abuse she took. One of the comments simply featured knife emojis:

It’s not the first time South Korean skating fans have abused a Korean skater’s opponent. Four years ago in Sochi, they believed Great Britain’s Elise Christie was guilty of causing Park Seung-Hi to crash. They went at Christie with endless threats.

“The way the Koreans responded had made me scared of living,” Christie said recently. “I couldn’t sleep. I was worried. I know it seems so dramatic. But I thought people actually did want to kill me.”

Boutin has also protected her Twitter account to try to shield herself from similar threats.

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The best photos from the Winter Olympics so far: Feb. 12
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The best photos from the Winter Olympics so far: Feb. 12
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Lydia Lassila of Australia performs an aerial during Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Aerials training on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 10, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Silje Norendal of Norway competes in the Snowboard Ladies' Slopestyle Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Pyeonchang, Gangwon - February 11: Red Gerard fall in the finish line after his last run.Silverthorne board-riding phenom Red Gerard stepped up in the highest pressure contest of his life and earned the U.S. its first gold of the PyeongChang Olympics. February 11, 2018. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 06: Luger Raluca Stramaturaru of Romania trains ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Olympic Sliding Centre on February 6, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Silver medalist Chris Mazdzer of the United States, gold medalist David Gleirscher of Austria and bronze medalist Johannes Ludwig of Germany pose during the medal ceremony for the Luge Men's Singles at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: North Korean cheeleaders attend the Men's 1500m Short Track Speed Skating qualifying on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Team Korea prepare to face Team Sweden in the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Flag bearer Pita Taufatofua of Tonga leads his country out during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Benjamin Weger of Switzerland competes during the Men's Biathlon 12.5km Pursuit on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Biathlon Centre on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Fuyuko Tachizaki of Japan competes during the Women's Biathlon 10km Pursuit on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Biathlon Centre on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Sho Endo of Japan crashes in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Yuri Confortola of Italy crashes during the Men's 1500m Short Track Speed Skating qualifying on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Emina Malagich of Olympic Athlete from Russia, Petra Jaszapati of Hungary and Charlotte Gilmartin of Great Britain crash during the Ladies� 500m Short Track Speed Skating qualifying on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Mirai Nagasu of the United States of America competes in the Figure Skating Team Event Ladie's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 08: Becca Hamilton of the United States delivers a stone against Olympic Athletes from Russia in the Curling Mixed Doubles Round Robin Session 1 during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Curling Centre on February 8, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Gold medal winner Ireen Wust of The Netherlands reacts during the victory ceremony after the Ladies 1,500m Long Track Speed Skating final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Juliane Seyfarth of Germany makes a trial jump during the Ladies' Normal Hill Individual Ski Jumping Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Yuka Seto of Japan makes a trial jump during the Ladies' Normal Hill Individual Ski Jumping Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Elizabeth Hosking of Canada competes during the Snowboard Ladie's Halfpipe Qualification on the three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada skate during the Ice Dance Free Dance section of the Team Event on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Adam Rippon of the United States competes in the Figure Skating Team Event � Men's Single Free Skating on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 12, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Elena Koenz of Switzerland competes in the Snowboard Ladies' Slopestyle Final on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada and Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway race congratulate each other after crossing the line during the Men's 5000m Speed Skating event on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Maciej Kurowski of Poland during the Men's Singles Luge on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 10, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Fireworks erupt as the Olympic Cauldron is lit during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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