SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- All-Star baseball player Kim Tae-kyun remained the highest-paid professional athlete in South Korea for the fifth straight year, data showed on Thursday.
According to figures released by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim, entering his 14th season with the Hanwha Eagles, will make 1.6 billion won (US$1.34 million) in 2016.
Kim has been the richest pro athlete in the country since 2012, when he signed for 1.5 billion won per season after returning from a short stint in Japan. Kim became a free agent after last season, and re-signed with the Eagles for four years at 1.6 billion won per season.
Baseball has been South Korea's most popular pro sport for years, with football, volleyball and basketball trailing. In the top-flight football competition, K League Classic, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors forward Lee Dong-gook is the highest-paid player at 1.1 billion won per season.In the KBO, Lee would only be the fourth richest player, after Kia Tigers' pitcher Yoon Suk-min (1.25 billion won) and Eagles' pitcher Jung Woo-ram (1.2 billion won).
In the Korean Basketball League (KBL), Samsung Thunders' forward Moon Tae-young is the highest-paid player, making 830 million won with incentives.
In vollyeball's V-League, Han Sun-soo, setter for the Korean Air Jumbos, tops all players with 500 million won in annual salary.
The annual salary in the KBO, not counting foreign players' wages, exceeded 200 million won for the first time in 2016. The figure reached 216.2 million won, up from 193.3 million won from a year ago.
KBO teams can sign up to three foreign players, with the exception of the expansion franchise KT Wiz, who joined the league last year and will be allowed to keep four foreign players in their first two seasons. Among the imports, right-hander Esmil Rogers of the Eagles is the highest-paid player at $1.9 million, which includes a $200,000 in signing bonus.
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