SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean court has handed Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang a suspended two-year prison sentence for fleeing the scene after crashing a car into a guardrail while driving under the influence of alcohol.
The sentence handed down Friday by the Seoul Central District Court was a heavier punishment than the 15 million won ($13,000) fine prosecutors had sought, but still clears the 29-year-old Kang to join the Pirates for the baseball season.
“I am sorry, and I am repenting a lot,” Kang said after the ruling.
Kang was previously fined twice on drunk driving-related charges in 2009 and 2011. He is in the third year of a four-year contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015 after a stellar eight-year career in South Korean professional baseball.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement Friday that the team will work to secure Kang’s work visa and sit down with him before deciding whether to discipline Kang.
“We look forward to meeting with Jung Ho as soon as he is able to travel to the United States and having a serious discussion with him on this issue and how he has and will change those behaviors that led to the very serious punishment that has been levied against him in Korea,” Coonelly said.
Kang hit 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 103 games in 2016 during his second season in the majors. Also that year, a 23-year-old woman said she was sexually assaulted by Kang at a hotel in Chicago. Kang has not been charged.
According to police, Kang didn’t stop after driving a rented BMW into a guardrail at about 3 a.m. while returning to his Seoul hotel in December. The crash damaged the guardrail and the car. Police said Kang’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash would have been 0.08 percent, which is above the country’s 0.05 percent legal limit.