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Politician continues bashing PSG's Lee Kang-in

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 15, 2024 - 15:09

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Son Heung-min (left) and Lee Kang-in pose in this photo posted to Son's Instagram account. (Instagram) Son Heung-min (left) and Lee Kang-in pose in this photo posted to Son's Instagram account. (Instagram)

In what appears to be another verbal attack against national soccer team player Lee Kang-in, Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo on Thursday wrote and then deleted a series of controversial comments seemingly aimed at the Paris-Saint Germain midfielder.

Hong, 70, wrote on his Facebook page earlier in the day that he "hates gapjil by gold spoons." "Gapjil" refers to the arrogant attitude or actions of people in positions of power against those below them. The term "gold spoon" in Korean refers to individuals born into wealth or prestige, similar to the English idiom, "to be born with a silver spoon in one's mouth."

"Such a nasty temperament comes from being raised wrong from a young age, and those people need to go through a harsh process to fix their attitude," he wrote in the post. The post was later deleted, but screenshots of it were shared by other users online.

The mayor did not specify who he was referring to in the post, but it was widely thought to have been directed at Lee, whom Hong has called a "gold spoon" before and of whom Hong has been openly critical.

Hong has also previously compared Lee to player Son Heung-min, whom the mayor also referred to as "another case of a soccer golden spoon."

While neither Son nor Lee fits the conventional description of a gold spoon in terms of being born into a wealthy family, Hong seems to have been referring to both players having devoted parents who provided well for them.

Hong has been the most vocal opponent of Lee since he was embroiled in a dispute following an altercation with national team captain Son, before South Korea's 2-0 loss against Jordan in the semifinals of the Asian Cup in Qatar in 2023. Lee and the team's younger members had reportedly insisted on playing table tennis the night before the big match, resulting in a scuffle with Son that led to the captain dislocating his finger.

The incident sparked nationwide debate, but Hong was among the few public figures who said Lee should never be part of the national team. "Lee Kang-in's personality is unfit for a team sport," he said after the incident.

After the national team's interim coach Hwang Sun-hong picked Lee as a member of the new team earlier this week, Hong said he was disappointed in Hwang. "He picked Lee who should not have been picked, which shows that he hasn't considered public sentiment." Hong also said he would boycott the national team games for the time being.