The Greek club PAOK Salonika signed twin South Korean volleyball players Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong, earlier this week. The twins have been banned by their former club and the Korean national team after accusations of bullying.
The twins enjoyed successful volleyball careers, representing South Korea in international volleyball competitions. Then they were anonymously accused of bullying previous teammates at their school.
After the allegations surfaced in February, they publicly apologized on their Instagram accounts, which have since been deleted. Both also said that they wished to meet with their former teammates to apologize for their actions.
However, the twins said in a TV interview with the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) in July that they were suing the alleged victims for defamation. They said the claims included “lies and false information.”
Korean Volleyball fans protest twins’ bullying charges
Jae-yeong and Da-yeong were released by the team “Incheon Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders” in June when fans protested against the Pink Spiders’ attempt to register the sisters on the roster.
Fans sent trucks with mounted LED screens showing statements that read “Comeback of the school bullies that everyone except Heungkuk Life Insurance is against” in multiple locations. The Heungkuk Life Insurance company headquarters is in Seoul.
In February, the Pink Spiders had confirmed it would suspend the pair for an indefinite amount of time. The Korean Volleyball Association (KVA) dropped them from the national team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Now with free-agent status, the sisters chose to continue their volleyball careers in Greece. The KVA also confirmed Jae-yeong and Da-yeong’s transfer to PAOK Thessaloniki. PAOK has yet to comment on the twins’ case.
The Turkish sports agency CAAN Sports Organizations described the move as “historic,” adding that the twins will be the first Korean female players to compete in the Greek A1 category.
However, one of the alleged victims appeared in a TV interview with Korean broadcasting station MBC on Tuesday. With her face and voice distorted, she said she felt powerless that the sisters are heading to Greece while the bullying scandal remains unresolved.
South Korean social media explosion
The South Korean public also raged about the news. “Was it that difficult to apologize sincerely?” one wrote on Twitter. “Can we just ban them from coming back? They’re running away without even apologizing for school bullying,” another fan wrote.
The players needed International Transfer Certificates (ITCs) issued by the KVA to transfer to an international club. But the association sternly refused, citing its own regulation, which limits international transfers of those who have severely damaged the volleyball community or caused public controversy with “disgraceful acts.”
The KVA said it had received two messages from the FIVB asking for a bank account number to receive the solidarity fee from the transfer. When South Korean volleyball players transfer to an international club, the association receives 5% to 10% of the salary from the purchasing club.
“We didn’t provide our bank account information because we will not receive the fee,” the association said. “This is not a matter of money. “As the KVA maintained its stance until the given deadline, the FIVB officially issued ITCs for the twins.