The handling of the “Olympic Dokdo Sign Incident” has now reached a new level of farce.
Korean Football Association chief Cho Chung-yun apologized before the National Assembly on Friday for sending an apologetic letter to the head of the Japan Football Association for Park Jong-woo’s “Dokdo Ceremony”:
During a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly’s committee on culture and sports, Cho Chung-yun, head of the Korea Football Association (KFA), apologized for a controversial letter sent by the KFA to the Japan Football Association (JFA).
The letter, written in English, was sent Monday, days after Korea’s Park Jong-woo, in celebrating his team’s 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match in London, carried around a sign that read in Korean, “Dokdo Is Our Territory.” The letter came under fire for its apologetic tone and for the KFA’s apparent acknowledgment of Park’s wrongdoing.
“I’d like to sincerely apologize for the trouble this letter has caused,” Cho told lawmakers. “When the situation demands, then I can take the responsibility.”
According to the Korea Times, critics contend that “the KFA admitted Park had engaged in inappropriate behavior before any official ruling from either FIFA or the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
Judging from USFK’s recent apologies, I’d thought that’s how things are supposed to be done over here, but I guess not.
Anyway, the JoongAng Ilbo got a hold of the “shocking” email and posted it to their website. It’s just barely legible, but if you look closely at your monitor, you can make it out. Ordinarily, I’d say aside from the fact Cho should have had it copy-edited before clicking “send,” I can’t see anything wrong with Cho’s letter. It’s the sort of boilerplate apology you’d be expected to send after an incident like this.
If anything, Cho understated things by denying Park’s act was political, when anyone who’s not intentionally bullshitting him or herself knows it was.
I said “ordinarily,” however, because sadly, I know exactly what the problem with Cho’s letter is. I’m pretty sure the higher-ups at the Korean Olympic Committee, Korea Football Association and elsewhere know perfectly well that Park’s “Dokdo ceremony” was unacceptable and inexcusable. You don’t need an IOC judgement to apologize in this case—Park’s act speaks for itself. The problem is, public sentiment regarding, well, most things Japan-related is so poisonous, officials can’t do what needs to be done—at least publicly—even in such an obvious situation like this. Sure, given Japan’s history of forced, half-ass apologizes for things much worse than waving a Dokdo sign, there’s probably some degree of karma to that, but I can’t see how it helps, either with Japan or, in this case, with the greater international community.