A South Korean court has denied the appeal of infielder Jung Ho Kang over his sentencing in an offseason DUI charge, reports Jee-ho Yoo of Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. According to Yoo, the Seoul Central District Court upheld a suspended eight-month prison sentence for Kang, which now jeopardizes Kang’s career with the Pirates.
Kang was charged with his third DUI in South Korea this offseason and admitted guilt, which ultimately led to an early-March sentencing of eight months in prison. However, the sentence was suspended for two years and allows Kang to avoid serving any actual jail time so long as he does not violate the terms of the suspended sentence that were set forth by the court. Kang had sought to reduce the suspended sentence to a fine, but today’s ruling quashes that hope.
The 30-year-old Kang has been on the restricted list for the Pirates all season, meaning he has not accrued any Major League service time, nor has he received any of this season’s $2.75MM salary. To this point, he’s been unable to secure a work visa after the United States Embassy rejected his initial application, per Yoo.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement issued shortly after Kang’s sentencing that the Pirates would “continue to work with him and his representatives in an effort to secure his work visa so that he may resume his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.” Coonelly’s statement also indicated that the team would have a “serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment” and that further comments or team-issued discipline would be withheld until the team has had a chance to speak with Kang on the matter.
The Pirates originally signed Kang to a four-year, $11MM contract after submitting a posting fee of $5,002,015 to his former club, the Korea Baseball Organization’s Nexen Heroes, in the 2014-15 offseason. Kang’s contract calls for a $2.75MM salary in 2017, $3MM in 2018 and a $5.5MM club option or $250K buyout for 2019. It is now unclear, however, if Kang will be able to obtain a work visa to continue his playing career with the Pirates at any point throughout the duration of the upheld suspended prison sentence.