SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean major leaguer Kang Jung-ho has struck out — not at the plate, but in the court of South Korean law.
Kang, an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is subject to the “three strikes” law after his latest arrest on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, Seoul police said Monday.
He was caught last Friday after leaving the scene of a DUI accident in the nation’s capital. Gangnam Police Station in southern Seoul confirmed that it was Kang’s third DUI arrest, with the three strikes law resulting in the immediate revocation of his license.
According to police, Kang had also been arrested for a DUI in August 2009 and May 2011. No personal injuries were reported in either case, though he’d caused property damage in the latter incident.
Kang was playing for the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) when both incidents occurred.
Last Friday, Kang was booked for fleeing the scene after crashing into a guard rail on his way to his hotel in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, at 2:48 a.m.
A friend of Kang’s in the passenger seat, only identified by the surname Yoo, reported to police as the driver of the vehicle. Police analyzed the black box inside the vehicle and determined that Kang had actually been behind the wheel and called him in for questioning some three hours after the accident.
Kang’s blood alcohol content level was 0.084 percent. The legal limit is 0.05 percent.
Normally, it’s a level subject to the suspension of one’s license, but under the three strikes law, in effect since July 2001, Kang’s license will be revoked.
Kang won’t be allowed to reacquire his license for two years.
Police typically take habitual DUI offenders into custody, as defined by those with multiple arrests in a three-year span. Kang, whose previous DUI arrest came five years ago, is unlikely to be placed under investigative detention.
Gangnam police are looking into possibilities that Kang and Yoo might have plotted to switch the identity of the driver in the aftermath of the accident. Yoo at first told police that the act was done out of goodwill.
If police determine that Kang had asked or even forced his friend to lie about who’d been at the wheel, the two will then face additional abetting charges.
Kang is also under investigation over a sexual assault allegation that emerged in Chicago in July.
After enjoying an All-Star career in the KBO, Kang signed a four-year, US$11 million deal with the Pirates before the 2015 season.
He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 with a .287 batting average, 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games.
His season was cut short in mid-September after he suffered serious leg injuries on a hard slide by the Chicago Cubs’ Chris Coghlan trying to break up a double play. Kang returned to action in May 2016, and went on to hit 21 home runs and drive in 62 runs in 103 games.
Following last week’s accident, the Pirates said in a statement they were “extremely disappointed” in the player. Kang also apologized for his “irrevocable mistake” and said he’d humbly accept whatever punishment deemed fit for his actions.