The Korea Herald


Police question eyewitnesses concerning 'blackmail' of MLB player

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 10, 2023 - 12:19

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Kim Ha-seong (Yonhap) Kim Ha-seong (Yonhap)

South Korean police investigating legal complaints filed by San Diego Padres' infielder Kim Ha-seong, who has alleged that he is being blackmailed over a fight that occurred two years ago, have been questioning witnesses including local professional baseball players who were present at the fight.

According to Seoul Gangnam Police Station on Saturday, officials have called in for questioning several acquaintances of Kim, including teammates from when he played with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization.

Kim, 28, filed blackmail charges against former baseball player Im Hye-dong for allegedly coercing large sums of money several times for injuries Im sustained in a fistfight between the two at a bar in Gangnam, southern Seoul, in 2021. Im was a member of Kim's management staff at the time and had previously played two years on the reserve Futures League squad of the Heroes, where Kim played for seven seasons prior to making the jump to the Major League Baseball in 2021.

Kim claims that he paid Im 400 million won ($303,000) in a settlement, but Im continued to request more money. Im says that he never asked for more money after the initial settlement and that Kim is the one at fault for breaking the confidentiality agreement concerning the fight.

The focal point of the dispute has since shifted to the validity of Im's claims that he had been the victim of Kim's repeated physical abuse in their time spent together. Im on Thursday revealed a photo of bruises on his body, claiming they were inflicted by Kim.

Kim on Friday denied the claims, and said Im had broken the agreement by contacting him repeatedly in violation of the deal.

Officials have not disclosed their findings as of yet and plan to investigate Im soon, mulling cross-examination of the contradictory testimonies of Kim and Im.

Kim is considered among the most successful baseball players from the country ever, having become the first Korean to win a Gold Glove, at the utility position, in the MLB last month.