A stalwart on the mound for the South Korean National Team, Kim Kwang-hyun (35-SSG Landers) returned his Korean flag after the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
“I’m proud of myself for playing for my country and for Korean baseball. I grew a lot and learned a lot while playing for the national team,” he said, adding that he now wants to pass the torch to younger players.
However, he also expressed bitterness, saying, “I’m very disappointed and frustrated because I could have done better.”
Kim first earned his senior national team call-up at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he established himself as the league’s leading left-handed ace until the 2023 WBC. His final international tournament, the WBC, didn’t end on a high note as his team was eliminated in the first round, but it was an emotional farewell.
Kim Kwang-hyun started the game against Japan, a team that was under a lot of pressure after losing the first game against Australia, a team that was considered to be an underdog at the time.
From the first inning, Kwang-hyun pitched so hard that he had his face and neck open. Although he was pulled after two innings and four runs, leaving Korea with a 4-13 loss to Japan, Kim made a lasting impression by giving it his all and spraying the ball around.
The fans were sad to say goodbye to Kim Kwang-hyun, as he was one of the best pitchers in the country.
The problem is that his beautiful finish was completely shattered in just over two months. It was no one else’s fault but Kim’s own that his proud career was tarnished.
The scandal began on March 30, when a YouTube channel revealed that the baseball player had been drinking at a Japanese brothel during the WBC. It was reported that they drank until dawn on the day of the game 스포츠토토.
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) immediately launched an investigation and received statements from the players, stating, “There is no evidence that they entered the snack bar the night before the game during the WBC. However, on March 7, the traveling day, and March 10, the day before the rest day, the players revealed that they had entered the restaurant.”
As the controversy continued, Kim Kwang-hyun himself appeared in front of reporters and identified himself as one of the players. Kim Kwang-hyun drank with Chung Chul-won (Doosan Bears), a junior at Ansan Technical High School. Lee Yong-chan (NC Dinos) also visited the establishment with an acquaintance.
Kim Kwang-hyun said on the 1st, “I was the one who drank alcohol during the WBC. I acted foolishly during the tournament,” and reflected, “I acted thoughtlessly while wearing a national team uniform.” “I’m really sorry to all the fans who love baseball, to the seniors and juniors in the baseball world,” he said, “and especially to the juniors who were involved because of me.”
But it was too late to turn things around. The scars the national team left on the people were too great to dismiss as trivial. Kim Kwang-hyun’s aberration, which was always believed to be sincere in front of the Taeguk-mark, had already frozen fans’ hearts.
The pride of the national team, the Taekwondo mark, was returned, and the solid trust in Kim Kwang-hyun that had been built up over the years collapsed. It was even more outrageous because it was an ace.