LCK teams take a firm stance against virtual violence, ready to take legal action if necessary


In recent years, cyber violence has been something that many people have been battling against in South Korea. It comes in many forms, including hate comments and cyberbullying, and while the general public may consider K-pop celebrities to be prime examples of being victims, it’s something that also affects regular people. 


Stars like Sulli from the K-pop group “f(x)”, to Goo Hara from “Kara”, who unfortunately committed suicide due to virtual violence, may be cases that the general public is more aware of. However, amongst young Koreans and especially among students, cyberbullying frequently occurs through messenger apps, and such cases are just as serious.


Unfortunately, this virtual malice has crept onto traditional sports, as well as esports. Leeco Sports Agency, one of the biggest sports agencies in Korea that represent many Korean sports stars, has recently put out a post on their official Instagram page, which basically declared war against those that practice online hate speech against their players, but is also campaigning to clean up the toxic culture that has existed for a long time.


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안녕하세요? (주)리코스포츠에이전시입니다.  (주)리코스포츠에이전시는 앞으로 소속 선수들에 대한 댓글, 다이렉트 메시지, 커뮤니티 게시물 등을 통한 모욕, 허위사실 유포, 신용훼손, 명예 훼손, 업무 방해 등에 대해 법적으로 대처하기로 결정했습니다. 특히 선수의 가족에 대한 인신 공격 및 명예 훼손 등에 대해서는 더욱 강력하게 대처하겠습니다.  오래전부터 선수들이 도를 넘는 악성 댓글과 DM 등으로 괴로움을 호소할 때, 강력한 대처를 만류해 왔습니다. 자칫 법적 대응으로 이어질 경우, 스포츠를 사랑하고 선수들을 응원해주는 팬들을 공격하는 것으로 생각했기 때문입니다. 하지만 최근 이런 ‘무대응’이 진심으로 선수들을 아끼는 팬들을 더욱 피로하게 하는 것이라는 것을 깨달았습니다.  강력 대처를 결심하게 된 이유는 아래와 같습니다.  첫째, (주)리코스포츠에이전시 선수들과 그들의 가족을 보호함으로써 선수들의 정신적/육체적 건강과 최상의 경기력을 유지하게끔 돕고 싶습니다. 둘째, 스포츠를 사랑하시는 팬들이 자신이 응원하는 선수들에 대한 악성글로 받는 스트레스와 피로감을 줄이고 싶습니다.   마지막으로 우리 사회를 더욱 건강하게 만들고 싶습니다. 많은 어린이들이 인터넷을 통해 스포츠를 접합니다. 우리 사회에 건강한 스포츠 문화가 자리 잡을 수 있도록 작은 힘이나마 보태고 싶습니다.   최근 많은 팬들이 악성 글을 모아서 보내주고 계십니다. 알고 있던 것보다 사태가 훨씬 심각했습니다. 이는 표현의 자유도 선수들에 대한 진심 어린 비판도 아니었습니다. 무지함을 깨우쳐 주시고 늦었지만 결심하게 도와주신 팬들께 진심으로 감사드립니다. 앞으로도 많은 제보 부탁드리겠습니다. 제보는 아래 메일로 보내 주시면 감사하겠습니다. (담당 변호사: 법률사무소 도윤 성경화 변호사) 빠른 시일 안에 선수들과 함께 악성글 근절 캠페인도 시작하겠습니다. 선수들의 애장품과 사인굿즈도 기부할 예정입니다. 많은 참여 부탁드립니다.  항상 선수와 팬을 위해 노력하겠습니다. 리코스포츠에이전시 임직원 일동 #악성글이제그만 #깨끗한온라인문화만들기#리코스포츠에이전시 #nomoreonlineabuse #nomoreabuse #stoponlinebullying #weloveourplayers #weprotectourplayers #fansloveplayers #playerslovefans

A post shared by Leeco Sports Agency (@leecosports) on


In recent days, three LCK teams have put out a statement about such virtual violence against their players as well. On August 8, Hanwha Life esports put out a statement on their official Facebook page regarding such hate comments against their players, asking (and hoping) for more constructive criticism and support towards their players, while also suggesting legal action if such online hate ensues.


Official statement regarding virtual violence by HLE (Source: HLE official Facebook)


SeolHaeOne Prince followed suit. Kang Do-gyeong, the general manager for SP, told Inven Global: 


“The players are receiving a lot of hate comments and spiteful DMs. Despite telling them not to read them for the betterment of their mental state, the players eventually do come across them. The hate comments definitely do have a negative impact on their mental state, which leads to a further decline in their performance. Not only will we be actively campaigning to create a healthier online esports culture, but if other teams decide to take an active stance and explore legal action, we will also be standing alongside them.” 



On August 10, T1 also put out a statement condemning such violent virtual attacks. In the statement, Joe Marsh, the CEO of T1 Entertainment & Sports, addressed the matter of online violence, and stated that T1 “acknowledges that criticism comes with the territory of professional gaming; however, recent incidents have threatened our team’s health and safety - overstepping the lines of fandom with violent threats and hate speech.” Marsh added that if it continues, T1 will pursue legal action to put an end to it, citing that “there is no place for hate in esports.”


In an August 9 interview for Inven Global with T1 head coach Kim Jeong-soo, Coach Kim detailed the types of messages that he gets. He stated that sometimes he even gets messages where it’s just “a ghastly picture of a ghost, with red captions that say something like ‘You f***ing die’.” Coach Kim further stated that these hate messages aren’t even about the team’s performance, where actual threats against his life were made if T1 wouldn’t start their superstar mid laner, Lee “Faker'' Sang-hyeok, in matches. While Kim said he feels okay with bringing criticism to the table, he asked that people “refrain from writing personal attacks and respect boundaries.”


The 2018 survey conducted on online hate speech by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, depicted on Arirang TV (Source: ARIRANG TV)


A 2018 report by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism revealed that roughly eight out of 10 South Koreans suffered from online hate speech. The public eye has seen it time and time again, agreeing that no form of violence is the solution to anything. With such a culture that only incites toxicity, LCK teams taking an active stance on this matter is a step in creating a healthier esports culture. It’s a movement that everyone needs to be a part of, as there is no place for virtual violence — not just in esports, but anywhere else.



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