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Lee Yong-dae to marry his longtime girlfriend

Korean badminton star Lee Yong-dae will tie the knot with his longtime girlfriend, an official from the athlete’s sports club said Thursday.

Lee, who won the gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will marry actress Byun Soo-mi, whose stage name is Han Soo-hyun, an official with the Yonex badminton club said.

The official added the athlete-actress couple will have a private wedding ceremony, but the exact date and location are still unknown. Lee and Byun have been dating since 2012. The couple is expecting a baby this spring, according to the official.

Lee’s mother, Lee Ae-ja, said the baby is a girl.

“I’m really happy that they are having a baby,” she said. “Yong-dae told me he wants to raise his daughter to become a badminton player.”

Lee is one of the top badminton stars in the men’s and mixed doubles. After his gold medal performance in Beijing in 2008, he took the bronze medal in the men’s doubles at the 2012 London Games.

Lee announced his national team retirement last year after he and his partner Yoo Yeon-seong got eliminated in the men’s doubles quarterfinals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 28-year-old is currently focusing on playing in professional badminton leagues in Southeast Asian countries.


An Ji-man sentenced for opening gambling site

A local court on Thursday convicted a Korean baseball pitcher of taking part in opening an online gambling site last year.

The Daegu District Court sentenced An Ji-man, once a pitcher for the Samsung Lions in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), to eight months in prison and suspended for two years. The 33-year-old was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of community service.

An was indicted in September over allegations he gave 165 million won ($144,000) to his friend in February last year to open an illegal gambling site.

“We acknowledge that the defendant colluded with the gambling site operator by providing funds,” the court said. “Still, we took into consideration that he was not directly involved in running the website and that he was disadvantaged in many ways due to the case.”

After news of the scandal broke, the Lions asked the KBO to authorize the termination of its contract with An in July. The KBO indefinitely suspended the right-hander from joining baseball activities.

Last year, An faced a separate investigation by local authorities for allegedly engaging in illegal overseas gambling. But the probe has been suspended as the whereabouts of key figures who can provide evidence in the case are unknown.

Average KBO salary reaches an all-time high this season

The average annual salary in the top Korean baseball league reached an all-time high this season, data showed Thursday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said players from the league’s 10 clubs will make 239.8 million won ($209,345) on average, up from the previous record of 216.2 million won from last season.

The figure counts the salaries of the 27 highest-paid players of each club, excluding each team’s foreign players, who are paid in U.S. dollars.

The KBO said a record 158 players will make more than 100 million won in 2017.

Lee Dae-ho, former Seattle Mariners first baseman who rejoined his former KBO club Lotte Giants last month, will be the highest-paid player in the league, with an annual salary of 2.5 billion won.

Lee is also the highest-paid athlete in Korean professional sports.

Among the foreign players, the Doosan Bears right-hander Dustin Nippert will make the most money this season with $2.1 million. He’s also the highest-paid foreign player in the KBO’s 35-year history.

As for teams, the Hanwha Eagles had the highest average salary for their top 27 players with 341.6 million won.


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