South Korean players react to Bio Kim's three-year ban

South Korean players react to Bio Kim's three-year ban

LPGA Tour

South Korean players react to Bio Kim's three-year ban

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THE COLONY, Texas – Inbee Park can see both sides of Bio Kim’s three-year suspension from the Korean Tour. As someone who has long split her time between the U.S. and South Korea, the LPGA Hall of Famer can see why so many Americans are stunned by the severity of Kim’s punishment for making an obscene gesture toward the crowd en route to victory at the DGB Financial Group Volvik Daegu Gyeongbuk Open.

“I think the western world is a lot more generous than the Asian culture,” said Park, “definitely that is for sure. That’s why I think a lot of comments over here has been that’s really, really harsh. Back in Korea, they kind of think that it is the right thing. I’m right in between there. I know what it’s like here, and I know what it’s like there.”

Even the smallest of mistakes, said former U.S. Women’s Open winner Eun-Hee Ji, can balloon into a big deal. That goes for the population in general, and not just the professional athletes.

“Three years personally to me is a lot,” said Ji, “but if the KPGA didn’t take any action, I think a lot of sponsors or partners definitely would’ve rethought partnering with the KPGA in the future.”

The incident occurred after someone took a photo during Kim’s backswing on the 16th hole. The 29-year-old, who competed on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, flicked off the gallery in frustration and slammed his club into the ground.

Hyo Joo Kim said that had Kim merely slammed down or threw his club, the punishment wouldn’t have been nearly as severe.

“It would be different if it wasn’t directed to anyone,” said Kim, when asked why this is so much worse than say a Sergio Garcia bunker tantrum.

Park agreed with Ji that the KPGA’s sponsorship struggles might have contributed to the severity of the punishment. They needed to send a message.

“I don’t even know if that kind of situation has ever happened in Korea or not,” said Park. “I think he was probably the example. … That could be maybe our standard from now on. Probably the guys, the girls, professional golfers, will be more careful from now on.”

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