KBL star demands under-the-table back pay

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KBL star demands under-the-table back pay

All is not well with the Daegu Orions and star point guard Kim Seung-hyun. In the latest chapter of their saga, it has been revealed that the 32-year-old Orions star filed a civil lawsuit against his team with the Seoul Central District Court on Sept. 20.

The two sides are embroiled in a dispute less than a year after news of their “double contract” fiasco came to the surface. To get the team under the salary cap, the Orions alledgedly signed two contracts with Kim in 2006, one for his official salary and another for an under the table salary.

Kim now says he is owed 1.2 billion won ($1.08 million) in back pay from the secret contract. The Orions have countered that the contract is illegal and will present the official contract to the courts. The KBL is set to hold a meeting on the issue today.

“Double contracts are illegal,” said a lawyer who requested anonymity. “The league’s front office will not rule in favor of a situation that goes against its rules and regulations. If the Orions lose the lawsuit, it can lead to big problems for the league. It’s possible that Kim isn’t the only player to agree to a double contract.”

The problems between Kim and the Orions stem back to 2006. Having earned free agency status, Kim re-signed with the Orions for 5.25 billion won over five seasons. However, with the injury prone Kim missing a significant number of games, the Orions tried to get out of paying his full salary by filing for salary arbitration. The league ruled in favor of the team to pay Kim 600 million won per season.

Angered over how he was portrayed in the media as a greedy player, Kim responded by revealing that the team had offered to pay him under the table to circumvent the salary cap.

After the league sternly issued a warning to the two parties, they reconciled their differences. In the end, the KBL fined the Orions 30 million won, Kim 10 million, and suspended Kim for 18 games. But after the team started 0-2 last season, the Orions sought to have Kim reinstated and Kim’s suspension was cut in half to nine games.

The KBL already ruled in favor of the Orions in the salary arbitration case last year and Kim’s decision to take his club to court - which is the first case of its kind in the history of the league - is a risky move for the player.

“In the worst case scenario, Kim could have to return the money he was paid under the table back to the Orions,” stated another lawyer.


By Jason Kim, Kim Woo-cheol [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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