President Moon Jae-in called for all-out efforts Monday to completely root out violence in the sports sector, insisting the outcome of results cannot justify abusive means.
"The recent series of testimonies about violence and sexual assault in the sports industry are the shameful portraits of ourselves that have been hidden under the glorious appearance of the country as a global leader in sports," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top aides at his office Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon's remarks come amid a high-profile legal suit raised by the country's Olympic short track champion Shim Suk-hee against her former coach Cho Jae-beom that she had been verbally and physically abused for years.
Shim has also claimed that she was sexually abused repeatedly.
Her accusations against her former coach has led to similar claims in other sports, including judo.
"Fragments (of such incidents) had often surfaced in the past, but they have continued as we failed to make fundamental changes. That is why we must thoroughly examine and investigate not only what has been revealed but also what could have taken place and sternly punish those responsible to bring fundamental changes to our society," Moon told the meeting, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
The president also called for better protection of victims who come forward, noting the revelation of their identities often leads to secondary harm.
"I ask you to create an environment where all victims may come forward and reveal what has happened for themselves and those following in their steps and for the development of our society," the president was quoted as saying.
"Furthermore, I hope this will be a chance to fundamentally review and change how we raise our athletes from goal-oriented training," he added.
The president raised questions about intensive training programs where young athletes are put into training camps away from their homes and schools for weeks or even months at a time.
"I ask you to also look into possible improvements to the training system where students from elementary schools to national athletes must spend most of their time in training camps once they join sports teams," Moon said.
"Physical training must be a way to reach self-realization and develop oneself, but it must also be a fun thing to do. I wish to again highlight the fact that any suppression or violence cannot be justified for any improvements in skills or even a medal from an international competition," he added.