Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was arrested in South Korea today after a car crash that reportedly occurred under the influence of alcohol, according to Jee-ho Yoo of Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. Yoo cites Gangnam Police Station in Seoul in reporting that Kang “was booked for fleeing the scene after crashing into a guard rail on his way to his hotel,” further adding that an unnamed passenger in the car first attempted to take responsibility by claiming that he or she was the driver. Korean police, however, investigated the car’s black box and found Kang to be the driver, at which point he was called in for questioning.
Kang’s blood-alcohol content was 0.084, per the Yonhap report, just over the American legal limit but more noticeably north of South Korea’s legal limit of 0.05. According to Yoo, Kang admitted to the charges upon being questioned. Pirates president Frank Coonelly offered the following statement on the matter, via press release:
“We have been made aware of the very serious charges filed against Jung Ho Kang early Friday morning in Seoul, South Korea. We are extremely disappointed in Jung Ho and in his decision process during this matter. I know first hand how foolish and dangerous it is to drive under the influence and am most thankful that, as we understand it, no one was injured. We will have further comment once we have been able to gather all of the relevant facts and speak with the player.” (For those wondering about Coonelly’s quote, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that Coonelly was charged with a DUI back in Dec. 2011 and was ordered by a judge to enter a first-time offender program.)
The news itself is troubling on its own, but concerns stemming from this incident are magnified by the fact that this isn’t the first instance of legal trouble for Kang this year. The 29-year-old was accused of sexual assault by a Chicago woman back in early July, and the investigation was still ongoing as of a September update from Andrew Goldstein of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. No charges have been brought forth against Kang in connection with that case, and Goldstein noted in his report that the alleged victim was not cooperating with police investigators. There’s been no resolution reported in that case.
Kang signed a four-year, $11MM contract to join the Pirates on the heels of a massive 2014 season in the Korea Baseball Organization. He’s owed $2.75MM in 2017 and $3MM in 2018, and the Pirates hold a $5.5MM club option with a $250K buyout over Kang for the 2019 campaign.