The Korea Herald


MLB player in dispute over assault accusation

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 8, 2023 - 11:47

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Kim Ha-seong poses for a photo during a press conference held on Nov.20 in Seoul. (Yonhap) Kim Ha-seong poses for a photo during a press conference held on Nov.20 in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres is embroiled in a dispute over allegations that he assaulted his former staff, with the Gold Glove-winning utility player claiming that he was blackmailed for a mere scuffle.

It has been reported Thursday that the 28-year-old has filed charges for blackmail against Im Hye-dong, a retired baseball player who was briefly on Kim's team when they played for the Nexon Heroes in the Korean Baseball League. Im retaliated by telling the local media that he had been repeatedly assaulted by Kim whenever he got drunk, for no apparent reason.

Im retired after 2016 and became a staff member in Kim's management company. It had been initially reported that he was a former teammate, but the two never actually played together, as Im was on the division 2 squad of the Heroes for his entire playing career.

Kim claimed that Im repeatedly coerced a large sum of money for the injuries he sustained in a fistfight they had at a bar in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul in 2021. Im claimed that they settled after Kim paid him 400 million won ($300,000), and has since never asked for more money or contacted him at all.

Kim made the jump to the MLB in 2021, after playing seven seasons in the KBO.

Im claimed that the two had reached a confidentiality agreement about the fight, which Kim allegedly broke first, leading him to seek legal compensation.

The two remain at loggerheads over the photo of Im he revealed Thursday, which showed bruises on his body that he alleged was proof of Kim's abuse. Kim claimed that the photo is not related to the incident.

Late Thursday, local media outlet Dispatch revealed a conversation between the two that occurred on KakaoTalk messenger, which showed Im sending a photo of himself with bruises on his neck and belly. In the conversation, Kim jokingly asked, "Have you been fighting in the UFC?" to which Im replied, "Proof of domestic violence," implying that he was beaten by his father.

The media outlet reported that Im used the same injuries to falsely claim that Kim had hurt him. It stressed that the two appeared to be friendly, with repeated uses of the term "kekeke" -- equivalent to "lol" in English -- in a conversation that took place on Aug.27, 2020, a few months before the fight took place.

It is unclear as of now which side is telling the truth, as the photos released by Dispatch do not exactly match what Im himself revealed a few hours earlier. The former shows bruises on the right side of Im's neck and belly, while the latter shows bruises on the left side of his neck, his chin and a smaller bruise on his abdomen.

Kim, the only Korean player to win the Gold Glove award in the MLB, is considered one of the most successful baseball players in the country’s history.