“We will check the sixth to eighth starting candidates, including Hwang Dong-ha, Jang Min-ki, Kim Hyun-soo, and rookie Cho Dae-hyun. We will also check the number of first basemen including Byun Woo-hyuk and Hwang Dae-in,” Kia Tigers coach Kim Jong-guk told the Hankyoreh recently about the main focus of this year’s spring camp. According to schedule, Kim was scheduled to board a plane bound for Canberra, Australia, on Saturday. However, Kim’s job as the Tigers’ head coach was suspended on Friday, and his contract was terminated on Sunday. And on Thursday, he will be questioned before his arrest.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said on the 29th that it has requested an arrest warrant for Kim and Jang Jung-seok, the former head of Kia, on charges of breach of trust on the 24th. Kim is the first coach to request an arrest warrant for an incumbent professional baseball coach on charges of personal corruption.
Confiscation is a crime applied when a person who handles the affairs of another person acquires property or property gains after receiving an illegal request for the task. Kim and Jang are suspected of receiving money and valuables worth 100 million won and tens of millions of won, respectively, from O Coffee in August 2022 when O Coffee was selected as a club sponsor. Kim’s side is known to deny the allegation, saying it is money without consideration, while partially acknowledging the receipt of the money. If an arrest warrant is issued, Kim will be the second active coach to be arrested, following the late Jinyoung Kim of the Sammi Superstars in 1983. At that time, Jinyoung Kim was arrested for assaulting the referee during the game.
Prosecutors reportedly discovered Kim’s alleged malpractice during the investigation into Jang Jung-seok. Jang is suspected of demanding bribes while negotiating with catcher Park Dong-won (currently LG Twins), who became a free agent. In March last year, Park Dong-won personally reported Jang’s demand for bribes to the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association, and the Kia team held a disciplinary committee to dismiss him. The Korea Baseball Organization requested the prosecution to investigate the case in April last year, and the investigation continued for about nine months, including the search and seizure of his home.
The Kia team initially planned to decide on Kim’s future course of action after watching the investigation process. “Since it is not a structure in which the coach or the general manager can be involved in advertising or sponsorship contracts, there can be no charge of breach of trust itself,” said a Kia official. However, Kim turned his position after hearing the specific amount he received from a coffee company and notified him of the termination of the contract on the afternoon of the 29th. The team said, “Regardless of the results of the prosecution’s investigation, we decided to terminate the contract with head coach Kim Jong-guk, judging that it was an act of “damage to his dignity.” Kia received a report that head coach Kim Jong-guk was under investigation by the prosecution on the 25th and confirmed this at a meeting with head coach Kim on the 27th.
Kia plans to appoint a replacement coach as soon as possible. The spring camp in Canberra, Australia, which will take place from Feb. 1, will be led by Jin Gap-yong, the team’s chief coach. During an interview at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday, Jin showed tears due to an unprecedented incident.