Boy, this was seriously ill-advised, not to mention just plain classless (HT to my brother):
A South Korean soccer player was barred from receiving his bronze medal at the London Olympics on Saturday for displaying a sign with a political message after a victory over Japan in the third-place game.
The player, Park Jong-soo, held up a sign after South Korea’s 2-0 victory over Japan, claiming South Korean sovereignty over a set of barely inhabitable islands that are also claimed by Japan.
Mr. Park, a midfielder, played all 90 minutes of the game on Friday in Cardiff, Wales, then was photographed carrying a sign that read, “Dokdo is our territory.” The islands, called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, lie in an area of rich fishing grounds and natural gas deposits.
Park is now being investigated by the International Olympic Committee and FIFA.
A Korean Football Association official told the Dong-A Ilbo that it seems the “Dokdo ceremony” was not pre-planned. Rather, there were lots of folk in the stands with “Dokdo is our territory” signs in the stands (not cool in and of itself), and it appears Park got one of the signs from a spectator in the post-game excitement.
The thing people are wondering now is whether Park will lose his military service exemption if he is ultimately stripped of his medal. According to the Hanguk Gyeongje, the netizens are divided over the issue—some think he should keep his exemption, others think he should take responsibility for what he did. I haven’t checked out what’s being said on Twitter, but I’m guessing the opinions aren’t evenly split in this case.
I don’t want to sound preachy, but I think the KOC, KFA or whoever needs to send a message that this is a) unacceptable, and b) internationally embarrassing. Stripping Park of his military service exemption might help.