Seoul providing consular support to detained S. Korean football player in China: ministry

May 17, 2023
 South Korea is providing all necessary consular assistance to Son Jun-ho, a South Korean midfielder based in China who is being detained by public security authorities reportedly for a bribery case, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Tuesday.

“In regards to Son, our local consulate is providing all necessary consular assistance,” Lim Soo-suk, a spokesperson for the ministry, told a regular press briefing.

Lim declined to provide further details, citing reasons of privacy.

Earlier Tuesday, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, confirmed that a South Korean citizen is being held in Liaoning in connection with a bribery case.

The South Korean Embassy in Beijing had said on Monday that Son, who plays for Shandong Taishan in the Chinese Super League, had faced questioning by Liaoning public security officials.

“China is a country governed by the rule of law and handles the relevant cases in accordance with the law to protect all the legitimate rights and interests of the parties involved,” Wang was quoted as saying by Reuters. Wang added that Liaoning officials had informed the South Korean consulate general in Shenyang of the case and that South Korean consuls would offer Son any necessary assistance.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Tuesday it sent official letters to the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and also the Asian Football Confederation seeking more information on Son’s case.

KFA President Chung Mong-gyu has asked his international affairs department to spare no effort in trying to find out more on Son’s status, an official with the national federation said.

However, with senior CFA executives also under investigation for various charges, it has been difficult to gather information from the Chinese football body, the KFA official added.

A source close to the player said Son may be able to meet with South Korean officials as early as Wednesday morning.

Son was reportedly detained at an airport in Shanghai last Friday when he attempted to leave the country.

Son, 31, has been playing for Shandong Taishan FC in the Chinese Super League since 2021.

Chinese media have reported that Son and other Shandong players had been questioned about match-fixing allegations surrounding their head coach, Hao Wei.