“You were always bright and you didn’t make it obvious.”
Only a week ago, no one in the KIA team was aware of allegations of Kim Jong-kook’s illegal fund scandal. According to Jin Gap-yong, a senior coach who has been with Kim since his days at Korea University, Kim acted as usual until the KIA team found out about his alleged malpractice. It is amazing for Tigers fans, front desk and players who are famous for being the most popular club in the KBO League.
KIA’s coaching staff, including senior coach Jin Gap-yong, left for Canberra, Australia, where the first spring camp will be held through Terminal 1 of Incheon International Airport on the 29th. KIA’s main team will depart on the evening of the 30th, but the ticketing took place on the 29th, a day before the coaching staff. Including coach Jin Gap-yong, coaches Jung Jae-hoon, Lee Dong-geol, Takeshi, Lee Bum-ho, Hong Se-wan, Park Ki-nam, Cho Jae-young and Lee Heon-gon plan to enter Canberra a day earlier to examine the local training environment.
Jin, who suddenly became the director of the spring camp due to the termination of former coach Kim Jong-kook’s contract, met with reporters and said, “I haven’t seen the players in person, but it will be very chaotic. I will prepare well with the team because the players will be here tomorrow (30th).”
Jin, Kim’s closest confidant, also learned about Kim’s alleged malpractice through the media. Jin said, “Suddenly, this situation hit me. I am not ready. I came to know it through the media for the first time, and I feel heavy in my heart,” adding, “The coach was always cheerful and did not show off. I also met him at a seminar on June 22 and when he provided players with equipment and took photos on June 24. I had conversations with him on a daily basis.”
Coach Jin stopped the interview for a while when he talked about former coach Kim and KIA fans. He managed to return to the microphone, but continued the interview with tears in his eyes.
“First of all, I apologize to the same team member. I will try to become a person who thinks twice. I am sorry,” coach Jin bowed his head.
I also heard what he had with Shim Jae-hak before leaving the country. “I met with him today and he told me to take responsibility as a manager. He told me to discuss things well with my coaches and follow our routine,” coach Jin said. “I think I’m in charge. I’ve never experienced this before, so I’ll have a lot of conversations with my coaches and prepare well.”
Jin plans to hold the first team meeting when the camp begins on Feb. 1. “Of course, we have to have a meeting first. Probably, the players were very surprised. I will tell them separately, ‘Don’t be too agitated and let’s do it in the way we exercise,'” he said. “The players will know better. I think I will think again through this opportunity and come back with good preparations for my performance.”
Did coach Kim Jong-kook discuss anything about the camp? “Before that, we always had the same schedule and talked about players a lot. Now that the situation has turned out to be like this, we need to discuss it with our coaches. We will prepare well,” coach Jin said.
It was on the 28th that the former head coach Kim’s situation first emerged. KIA confirmed on the 25th that former head coach Kim was under investigation by the investigating authorities. Two days later, he finally confirmed this at a meeting with former head coach Kim, and on the 28th, he suspended his duties in a surprise move.
“During the investigation, we decided that we could not perform our duties normally as a coach and suspended our duties,” the KIA club said, adding, “The final course of action of the coach will be decided after watching the investigation, and the first-tier spring camp will be conducted under the system of senior coach Jin Gap-yong.”
The situation further led to an arrest warrant for former head coach Kim. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office’s Major Crimes Investigation Department (Director Lee Il-kyu) said on the 29th, “We have requested an arrest warrant for director Kim Jong-guk and former general manager Jang Jung-seok on the 24th.” 꽁머니지급
Prosecutors have been investigating allegations that former general manager Jang demanded back money from catcher Park Dong-won (LG), who played for the KIA Tigers in 2022, under the pretext of a contract from the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) secretariat. In the process of investigating the case, prosecutors additionally captured Kim’s alleged breach of trust and requested arrest warrants for the two.