Jeff Liebsch, HAPS, June 11, 2013
South Korea national baseball team member and Hanwha Eagles first baseman Kim Tae-kyun is facing criticism from fans for making what are being called racist remarks on a radio show Monday about Busan’s Lotte Giants‘ African-American ace, Shane Youman.
During an appearance on Radio Ball, a Naver Internet baseball radio broadcast, the 31-year-old slugger was asked about the difficulties in facing Youman, who is considered the toughest pitcher in the league.
“The Lotte Giants’ Youman is the most difficult player to play against,” Kim replied. “His face is too black, so it is hard to bat because his white teeth and the ball confuses me when he smiles on the mound. So, I suffered a lot.”
He then went on to say, “There’s no particularly difficult pitcher, but when I play against Youman, I screw up because of his white teeth.”
Both the Hanwha organization and Kim have separately offered apologies to Youman over the incident, and there’s been no word on whether Kim will face any repercussions from the team or the league over the comments.
Kim’s remarks have garnered heated debate on Korean baseball forums with many denouncing the star player.
“If these words truly came out of Kim’s mouth, it’s very sad to hear that in 2013,” said Dan Kurtz, founder of MyKBO.net, a website dedicated to introducing English-speaking fans to Korean baseball. “Foreigners in the KBO are still not given the same respect as their Korean counterparts.”