South Korea’s KBO Dealing with Gambling Scandal
The KBO is dealing with another gambling scandal. 23 year old pitcher Lee Tae-yang has been indicted for accepting 20 million won ($17,540) to allow runs in a game in May, and the South Korean military is investigating Moon woo-ram, a player currently performing his two-year compulsory military service by playing baseball for the military team in KBO’s Futures (minor) league, for accepting half that amount in clothing and a watch.
Young KBO players aren’t paid a whole lot. Lee was making 100,000,000 won this year (roughly $88,000), and Moon was likely making a lot less serving in the military. This makes them susceptible to being bribed to fix games. However, KBO salaries are now pretty high for players who reach free agency after nine years of service and can command multi-year contracts paying more than $1,000,000 per season.
KBO dealt with a similar scandal four years ago, resulting in two players being banned from the KBO for life. They also received suspended criminal sentences.
KBO is on a pace to break last year’s all-time attendance record, but game fixing scandals sure won’t help.
It’s always disappointing to see young players throw away their careers in this way. Lee, in particular, had promise, and I doubt that many 23 year olds in South Korea make even $88,000 a year. Korean society highly values age and experience, and you have to work your way up from the bottom to make the big money once you have put in the years of hard work.