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Football star Ki apologizes over suspicious land purchase

National 15:58 April 23, 2021

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- Football star Ki Sung-yueng apologized Friday over controversial land deals that drew accusations of property speculation and prompted police investigation.

Police in the southwestern city of Gwangju said Thursday they booked the captain of Seoul FC in the K League 1 and his father, Ki Young-ok, on charges including violation of the agricultural land act.

They are suspected of falsifying documents on land management plans when they bought farmland in the city between 2015 and 2016. They were also found to have illegally altered a plot of the land into a parking lot for crane trucks.

Their land is inside or close to an area that was later designated for construction of a public park and apartment complexes. The prices have more than doubled since they bought the land, sparking speculation that they bought the land for speculative purposes.

"I am truly sorry to have caused a stir though inadvertently. It's all my fault resulting from my ignorance," the 32-year-old midfielder wrote in an Instagram post.

This March 31, 2021, file photo shows Ki Sung-yueng appearing at Seocho Police Station in Seoul for questioning after he accused his two former teammates of falsely claiming that he sexually and physically assaulted them in 2000. (Yonhap)

His father, former chief of Gwangju FC, is said to have bought the 15,000 square meters of land in their names for about 5.87 billion won (US$5.25 million).

Ki said he did not know until recently that the plots included agricultural land.

He was staying overseas at the time of acquisition and was not involved in the management of the land, he added.

Ki, however, denied the allegation of land speculation, saying he and his father intended to build a football academy in his name on the land.

"In 2016, my father proposed running a football center to foster promising young players. It sounded good and I accepted it and left everything to my father," he said.

He said he would cooperate with the police investigation and will accept any punishment. Police have yet to question them in person.

This April 23, 2021, photo shows a plot of agricultural land owned by football star Ki Sung-yueng and his father in the southwestern city of Gwangju. It was illegally altered into a parking lot for crane trucks. (Yonhap)


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