Despite recovery _ even slower than expected _ from a chronic back injury, Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na, 16, has yet to see light at the end of the tunnel. The 2007 World bronze medallist is facing a severe court battle over changing agents.
On April 20, Kim's mother Park Mi-hee notified IMG Korea, which managed Kim over the past year, of her and her husband's decision to part from the agent, saying IMG Korea's management was not satisfactory.
Five days later, Park signed a three-year contract with IB Korea, granting the local sports marketing firm exclusive rights as an agent for the skater in the business areas of advertising, licensing, publishing, Internet content and even movies.
Lee Jung-han, IMG Korea president, responded with legal action, claiming it is a double contract. He hired a lawyer from Kim & Chang, the biggest law firm in Korea, and is preparing to file the lawsuit.
He said the contract between his company and Kim's parents was made with the consent of both parties and a mutual agreement is required as well to nullify it.
Ahn Sang-wook, IB Sports vice president, replied that there was no illegality in Kim entering into a new contract as the deal between IMG Korea and Kim's parents was just an agent contract. Ahn quoted a local civil code stating any party in an agent contract can notify of its intention to terminate the deal at any time unilaterally.
He said IB Sports made a more comprehensive ``management deal'' with Kim, not an agent one.
``Kim's commercial value is great, and we will do anything we can on and off the rink to support her to become a stronger and dominant figure skater in the world,'' Ahn was quoted as saying by a local paper.
Kim, the 2006 junior champion, rose to international fame under the management of IMG Korea winning a gold medal in the International Skating Union Grand Prix in Paris last November _ the first gold medal in the 100 years of Korean figure skating history. She also won a bronze medal in the World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo last month after a slight injury to her back in early January.
Kim's parents, however, have been dissatisfied with what they say is a lack of support from IMG Korea as an agent.
According to IB Sports, Kim's parents said IMG Korea did little in helping Kim.
The company said Kim's mother complained about overseas air travel, for which Kim only used economy-class seats without any financial support from IMG Korea.