By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean baseball club executive under fire for disrespecting his athletes apologized for his action Thursday, while also withdrawing plans to take legal action against the league office for suspending him.
Hur Min, chairman of the board for the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), issued a statement through the club, apologizing to baseball fans and the rest of the league for a much-publicized incident from last year.
Hur, a millionaire-turned-baseball executive, caused a stir in October when it was belatedly revealed, through a TV news report, that he had forced the Heroes' minor league players to stay late after their practice in June 2019 so he could play catch and show off his knuckleball in live batting practice. KBO fans were up in arms over Hur's apparent lack of respect for professional athletes and accused him of using his authority to turn the baseball field into his personal playground.
"I'd like to offer my belated apology to players, officials and fans that I have inconvenienced with my action," Hur said. "As the chairman of the board of a baseball club, it was extremely inappropriate and careless behavior. I am also sorry that I had missed the timing of my apology."
The June incident made news after an anonymous tip from a baseball fan who filmed Hur's action on a smartphone and sent the clip to the TV station. In early December, former Kiwoom captain Lee Taek-keun claimed that the Heroes had attempted to retaliate against the tipster based on their closed-circuit TV footage. Lee also said the Heroes asked him to help identify and track down that anonymous fan.
The Heroes rejected Lee's allegations, but the KBO reviewed those claims. The league's disciplinary committee initially settled on a warning for Hur, but outgoing Commissioner Chung Un-chan was adamant that Hur had to be disciplined. Chung overruled the committee and handed down a two-month suspension to Hur on Monday.
The Heroes responded Tuesday that they would challenge that decision in court, but Hur retreated Thursday.
The Korea Professional Baseball Players Association (KPBPA) and the Korea Pro Baseball Players Alumni Association (KPBAA) both voiced their support for the KBO's suspension of Hur earlier this week.
"I don't think it helps our league to add more fuel to this situation," Hur said. "I will humbly accept advice from the KPBPA and other organizations, and I promise you something like this will never happen again."
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