It emerged recently that former Korea Baseball Organization superstar and Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was interested in resuming his career in his native Korea. But it wasn’t clear just how he planned to accomplish that.
Trouble is, Kang has been arrested three times for driving under the influence — a shameful mark that scuttled his MLB career and subjects him to the KBO’s harsh mandatory minimum suspension of three years. At 33 years of age, a three-year wait would pose some difficulties.
It seems the hope is to argue that the rule shouldn’t be applied in that manner. Per Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap (Twitter thread), Kang’s reps have asked the league not to count the third arrest since it took place when he was under contract with the Pirates rather than a KBO outfit.
The applicable KBO authorities are slated to consider the matter shortly. If successful, Kang might be permitted to resume play after a much shorter suspension. Yoo suggests something on the order of ninety games might be levied.
Given that he has already seemingly exhausted his chances stateside, and is already at a fairly advanced age for a ballplayer, it’s quite unlikely we’ll see Kang back with an affiliated organization. But it would be quite interesting to watch a potential KBO return effort. The league has only continued to grow in quality since Kang left and it is for the moment the top active baseball league in the world.
Yoo indicates that Kang’s former team, the Kiwoom (formerly Nexen) Heroes, retains his rights even after receiving a posting fee from the Pirates. Accordingly, he’d either work something out with the Heroes or be forced to seek that organization’s approval to latch on with another KBO club.