By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- Three members of the South Korean national baseball team at this year's World Baseball Classic (WBC) received fines and were ordered to do community service Wednesday, six days after admitting to going out for drinks in Tokyo during the March tournament.
Following its disciplinary committee meeting, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) meted out penalties on SSG Landers pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun, NC Dinos pitcher Lee Yong-chan and Doosan Bears pitcher Jeong Cheol-won.
Kim was slapped with a 5 million won (US$3,830) fine and 80 hours of community service. Lee and Jeong were each asked to pay 3 million won in fine and complete 40 hours of community service.
All three players attended the hearing to state their cases and apologized in front of cameras before the session.
A media report first claimed on May 30 that three unnamed players had gone out for drinks, accompanied by female waitresses, during the opening round of the WBC in Tokyo in March.
Citing anonymous sources, the report said the players had drinks on March 8, the eve of South Korea's first game against Australia and again on March 9, the day before South Korea faced Japan.
The players acknowledged their outings last Thursday, but they disputed the dates of those occasions as stated in the media report.
Lee said he met a friend at a Korean restaurant in Tokyo on March 7. Jeong said he and Kim had some snacks and drinks after the Japan game. All three also denied that they had female companions.
The KBO said Wednesday its own investigation had uncovered further details on the players' outings.
After checking the players' credit card statements and interviewing people working at a Tokyo bar, the KBO said Kim visited that establishment on March 7 and again on March 11. Jeong accompanied Kim on March 11, while Lee also went to the same place on the same day, but not with the other two players.
The KBO, which runs the professional league and oversees national team operations at tournaments featuring pro players, doesn't have grounds for penalizing players for drinking while with the national team. However, the league does require national team players to "act with honor and dignity" while representing the country. The KBO said its penalties on the three players were based on that particular requirement.
The initial report and subsequent admission by the players sparked outrage among baseball fans for staying out late during the competition instead of showing more discipline.
South Korea lost to Australia and Japan in succession en route to suffering a first-round exit for the third consecutive WBC.
All three players were removed from the active rosters for their respective clubs in the immediate aftermath of their admission.
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