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Social media wades into taekwondo controversy

Many athletes back Korean Coach, while some have reservations about his use of punishment for indiscipline

THE ROW between Rungrawee Kurasa and Thailand's national taekwondo coach Choi Young-seuk has brought a flood of comments over social media, and they appear to be divided with some supporting the athlete and others backing the coach.

Rungrawee, 23, had accused South Korean taekwondo coach Choi of physical abuse after her first-round loss at the Korean Open in 2014. This story has generated a lot of interest from Thais and also seen huge feedback.

Most comments at coach Choi's Facebook fanpage (www.facebook.com/CoachChoiFC) and Twitter account (@CoachChoiFC) are supportive. For instance, Kanokporn Krachangmol said: "We will always stand by your side. Let her stay with her parents if she cannot respect the regulation. You are the great coach of our country." IbbyEve S Jessadachat said: "I'm totally by your side to support and understand."

On Twitter, a lot of people posted encouraging messages against the hashtag #CoachChoi.

Ben Busarakamwong, a former taekwondo exponent who trained under Choi, posted on his Facebook page that he had never been punished by Choi (like Rungrawee was). He said taekwondo is a fighting sport where athletes need to be very strict about discipline because they might get hurt or could even die if they were not careful. Athletes have to understand its training and philosophy, which is in the rules and regulations.

Chanatip_Lek, also posted on Facebook and Instagram (@ Chanatip_Lek) supporting Choi. Meanwhile, Yaowapa Boorapolchai said in a video posted on her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/View|Chartpattana) that many taekwondo athletes had been "punished in different ways, some more severely, but everyone knew his [Choi's] intention was not to hurt us but to motivate us. I have also been severely punished, but then the coach apologised to me. He was not happy to do that but he needed to do so. He said we are Thai athletes, we must fight for the country; if we lost in the game, the country also lost".

A Facebook page supporting Choi, called "1 Support to Coach Choi"

(www.facebook.com/Coach.ChoiYoungSeok) was created on Wednesday night, and garnered more than 14,000 likes as of 5.15pm yesterday.

However, there were also comments supporting Rungrawee. For instance, Pongkunhang Champon wrote on Facebook suggesting that the importance of a gold medal led to abuse of a woman. He also urged that there should be a sense of balance between an athlete's discipline and punishment for indiscipline.

He said that though Rungrawee could be blamed for not being disciplined, it did not mean the coach had the right to punish her by punching her.

Kathathong Vithayanont, a sports journalist for 20 years, said on Facebook that he felt terrible about this row and urged all parties to go by the evidence.. He suggested two resolutions. First, the society pointed that Rungrawee was wrong, this solution will be happy and then a could of weeks it would be forgotten. And the second, in case the 'fact' discovered, Rungrawee would be still bad because the right thing not make the most people satisfied.

Some people like one Pinky Pitt posted on Facebook that punishing women athletes for indiscipline by hitting them is not acceptable even if some women think it is okay.


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