Three Korean League of Legends pros issued apologies following a social media uproar regarding a joke about prostitution made in an on-stream chat more than a year ago.
Lee “Duke” Ho-seong, Kim “Pure” Jin-sun and Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyun all came under heavy criticism last week when a tweet circulated on Wednesday that included a screen-capped conversation with a number of players seemingly making a joke about prostitution. The conversation mostly featured Duke and Pure, as Duke wrote “I want to do it” in chat, which Pure followed up with: “Go spend some money. You made one month’s worth of ‘Entertainment Fund (유흥비)’ from IEM.”
The word used, “유흥,” has roots as a word that means entertainment or enjoyment, but in a modern context has morphed into a term related to sex, including prostitution. The tweet gained traction, and a debate about women’s rights in Korea ensued, with a large number of League of Legends fans and a few fellow pros criticizing the players who made the joke. What’s odd is the conversations, which came in a group chat of former Najin players, took place in May 2016. It’s unclear why they were revealed only last week.
GorillA was the first to issue a public apology on Thursday but said his words — which amounted to telling the others players “not open this chat during streams” — were “blown out of proportion.” On Sunday, he posted a longer apology clarifying his first statement and apologizing for his “hasty self-defense” while not being able “to say what really needed to be said.” He acknowledged the use of the word “entertainment” in the chat was “acceptable under no circumstances,” and pointed out that the screen cap of what he said was “some time apart” from the rest of the conversation, with his intent being to prevent leaks of behind-the-scenes information.
Duke and Pure issued their own apologies on Friday via Facebook, with Pure writing that he “felt embarrassed” about his own ignorance, and that he “joked about something that never should be joked about.” Duke also apologized for disappointing his fans but said his comment of wanting to “do it” was in reference to a prank he used to pull in Najin.
Some pros have been critical of the players’ conduct, most notably Hong “MadLife” Min-ki. Over the course of the controversy, he retweeted comments that showed deep disappointment and criticism of players for refusing to address the joke until two days after the images surfaced. Ham “Lustboy” Jam-sik also commended MadLife’s stance and advocated for a more “thorough communication” between the community and the players when controversies like this erupt, a stance he later expanded upon in a second post after deleting his initial one.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games