June 15, 2016
Earlier today Yonhap News Agency in Korea reported that American center Chelsey Lee who attended Rutgers University and was a member of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics before being released prior to the start of the 2016 season, has been found by the the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to have forged her and her father’s birth certificates last year to play in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL). Lee along with her two agents are accused of doctoring documents which stated that she has a paternal grandmother who is Korean.
After having an amazing season in which she averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game for KEB Hana Bank and led her team to the WKBL finals, Lee was recommended for special naturalization by the Korea Basketball Association and the Korean Olympic Committee, so that she could help South Korea qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games. It was then that the 26-year-old center and her agents were suspected of falsifying the documents provided to the committee. After a months-long investigation, which had been initiated by The Ministry of Justice back in April, prosecutors concluded that the certificates were forged, and the person listed on the death certificate Lee provided as her grandmother’s had no relationship with Lee. The prosecutors added that the birth certificate Lee submitted as her father’s was also fabricated, saying the person on the document doesn’t even exist.
Following the prosecutors’ announcement, KEB Hana Bank immediately released a statement apologizing for the incident. “We will take stern legal measures against Chelsey Lee and her agents,” it said, adding the owner of the club, Chang Seung-chul, will resign from the position if the documents are ultimately found to be forgeries. KEB Hana Bank has suspended contract renewal talks with Lee and placed her on the restricted list. Under the current circumstances, she cannot transfer to another team without the consent of the original club.
It is hard to not look at the 2015-2016 WKBL season without questioning it’s results. KEB Hana, who finished second in the league and played in the finals, essentially played with two Americans in the game at the same time while other teams, under league rules, were allowed only one. This was a clear advantage for Hana to have two foreign players playing together and was the reason for many of their victories. Hana Bank went from last place to second in just one season. It will be interesting to see how the Korean League moves forward with determining if someone truthfully has Korean blood. Here’s a video of Lee playing in the Korean League this past season.