KBO head apologizes for scandals and controversy

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KBO head apologizes for scandals and controversy

The head of Korean professional baseball on Monday issued an apology to fans for a tumultuous year marred by a series of incidents on and off the field.

Chung Un-chan, commissioner of the KBO, also said the year 2019 will be one with “painful” changes.

“In 2018, Korean baseball and the KBO disappointed our fans a great deal,” Chung said in a statement released by his office. “We may have accomplished some great feats on the field. But unfortunately, we’ve had several incidents happen in and around the league and I failed to properly gauge public sentiment. I apologize to the people from the bottom of my heart for causing so much trouble.”

Chung, a former prime minister long known for his love of baseball, became the commissioner in January last year. Under his watch, the KBO drew more than 8 million fans for the third consecutive season and Korea won its third consecutive gold medal in the Asian Games with a team built with KBO’s All-Stars.

But the league also dealt with some major controversies. In May, two players for the Nexen Heroes - pitcher Cho Sang-woo and catcher Park Dong-won - were accused of sexually assaulting a woman during a road trip. Later the same month, the Heroes were belatedly found to have made several illegal player-for-cash trades. They were fined 50 million won ($44,970) and were forced to cough up another 600 million won made in improper deals.

Despite taking the gold at the Asian Games, Korea wasn’t celebrated as a champion back home. Manager Sun Dong-yol faced heat for questionable roster choices, with critics claiming that he selected some undeserving players just to help them receive military service exemptions through an Asian Games gold medal.

Sun was called in to testify on the situation during a parliamentary audit in October, and the first full-time manager for the national baseball team unceremoniously stepped down in November.

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