Hanwha Group heir Kim Dong-seon will represent Korea as a dressage rider during the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Group

Kim Dong-seon will compete as dressage rider despite criminal record

Hanwha Group heir Kim Dong-seon is scheduled to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, which will start next month, according to the Korean Sports & Olympic Committee of late.

Kim Don-seon, who works as vice president at Hanwha Hotel & Resorts, is the third son of Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn. He will play in Tokyo as a dressage rider.

His travel to Tokyo was possible as the 2020 Olympic Games were delayed to this year _ Kim Dong-seon’s criminal record prevented the 32-year-old businessman from representing the country last year.

In picking national team members, the Korea Equestrian Federation (KEF) is supposed to disqualify those who have been convicted of a criminal offense until two years after their probations finish.

In March 2017, Kim Dong-seon was sentenced to eight months in jail suspended for two years for attacking two bar workers while drunk in January of the year.

The KEF said that it had no choice because of the minimum eligibility requirements (MERs), which a rider should achieve to take part in international games.

“We opened the door for all riders, but only Kim Dong-seon met the MERs. As his punishment is done, we don’t have any reason to disqualify him,” a KEF official said.

Kim Dong-seon won three team gold medals and an individual silver medal in three Asian Games. He also participated in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

But his presence in Tokyo Olympics is expected to generate controversies because of his records of causing troubles while drunk.

In 2010, Kim Dong-seon allegedly beat security staff under the influence of alcohol at a bar in a Seoul hotel. Back then, he was not prosecuted because victims did not want to.

“Kim Dong-seon received a disciplinary measure from the KEF for the 2017 accident, and he even retired last year. But he did not make any apology while returning to the sports,” said Prof. Huh Jung-hoon at Chung-Ang University, who also leads a civic group named the Justice of Sports.

“I wonder whether other players can easily come back despite such records. I also suspect that Hanwha’s supports for the KEF might be considered.”

Two senior executives of Hanwha led the KEF between May 2012 and February 2015. Hanwha is the country’s seventh-largest conglomerate.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.