South Korean speed skaters facing mounting criticism and accusations of bullying towards a teammate who fell behind

  • A South Korean speed skater fell behind her teammates during a team event in which the final time is determined by the last racer to finish.
  • Comments by the teammates after the race have been widely construed as bullying.
  • A petition called for the duo to be kicked off the team has received a lot of support.


A pair of South Korean speed skaters have come under heavy criticism and been accused of bullying after they left their teammate behind during the 500-meter team pursuit quarterfinals event on Monday, according to the Korea Herald.

When Noh Seon-yeong fell behind during the event, her teammates Kim Bo-reum and Park Ji-woo proceeded to leave her behind and cross the finish line without her. This was an unusual move as rankings in the team pursuit skating events are based on when the third skater in a team crosses the finish line. 

Noh ended up finishing the race almost four seconds after her teammates, and the South Korean team failed to qualify for the semifinals.

After the race, comments made by Kim and Park triggered an avalanche of criticism, including an online petition on the South Korean president's official website with over two-hundred-thousand signatures calling for the pair to be expelled from the South Korean Olympic team. 

"I think we were skating well," Kim told a reporter after the race, per the Herald. "But then the last skater (Noh) could not keep up with the speed and we ended up with a disappointing score."

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South Korean speed skater Noh Seon-yeong
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South Korean speed skater Noh Seon-yeong
South Korea's Noh Seon-Yeong competes in the women's 1,500m speed skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Oval in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korea's Noh Seon-Yeong reacts after competing in the women's 1,500m speed skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Oval in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Seon-Yeong Noh, Bo-Reum Kim and Ji Woo Park of Korea compete during the Ladies' Team Pursuit Speed Skating Quarterfinals on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Ji Woo Park, Seon-Yeong Noh and Bo-Reum Kim of Korea compete during the Ladies' Team Pursuit Speed Skating Quarterfinals on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Seon-Yeong Noh of South Korea competes during 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)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Ji Woo Park of Korea, Seon-Yeong Noh of Korea and Bo-Reum Kim of Korea compete during the Ladies' Team Pursuit Speed Skating Quarterfinals on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Seon-Yeong Noh of Korea reacts after the race during the Ladies' Team Pursuit Speed Skating Quarterfinals on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 19, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
South Korea's Park Ji Woo leads South Korea's Noh Seon-Yeong and South Korea's Kim Bo-Reum in the women's team pursuit quarter-final speed skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Oval in Gangneung on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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Park claimed that she did not realize Noh was not with them until they had already crossed the finish line, something many fans find hard to believe, given the nature of the event. 

TV cameras also caught Noh sobbing after the race and Kim and Park both ignoring her. Only her coach, Bob De Jong, attempted to comfort Noh.

On Tuesday Baek Cheol-gi, the team's coach, threw an abrupt press conference to address the controversy, but despite previous announcements that all three skaters would be there, only Kim appeared. 

"The coach said Noh was not feeling well, while Park had been severely affected by the mounting criticism," reported the Herald. 

Kim, for her part, offered a tearful apology, according to the Herald, saying, "I apologize to those who have been affected by what I said during the TV interview yesterday." 

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