Korean major leaguer Kim Ha-seong addresses the press at the Incheon International Airport, Oct. 11. Yonhap

Korean major leaguer Kim Ha-seong on Friday denied that he had physically assaulted an ex-teammate, against whom Kim had earlier filed a complaint over blackmail charges.In a statement released Friday, Kim’s Seoul-based law firm, Best Way, said Kim has fully cooperated with police in the investigation into Kim’s charges against his former Korean league teammate. Kim had earlier lodged the complaint with police, accusing the former teammate of demanding money following a physical altercation they had in 2021, even after he had already received a lump sum of money in settlement.

The law firm said the ex-teammate was trying to extort money from Kim in 2021 while Kim was undergoing his mandatory military training. Kim had earned his exemption from the military service after winning the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games and only had to complete a few weeks of training during the offseason. However, any legal trouble would have stripped Kim of that privilege and forced him into active duty, and the ex-teammate is believed to have pushed Kim to pay up to keep him quiet.”Exploiting Kim Ha-seong’s status as a military trainee at the time, the ex-teammate demanded money for settlement,” Best Way said in its statement. “Kim gave him the money under the condition that he would never again contact him or engage in any behavior that could put Kim at a disadvantage. However, that player contacted Kim Ha-seong again and repeatedly violated the terms of their settlement. Kim Ha-seong decided to file his complaint in order to prevent further damage. Separately, he has filed a civil suit against the ex-teammate over his violation of their settlement.”

The law firm added: “The ex-teammate’s claims that Kim Ha-seong had frequently beaten him up are absolutely not true.””If his claims are indeed true, then he should formally file his own complaint,” Best Way said. “In that case, Kim Ha-seong will fully cooperate with authorities to prove his innocence, and also hold his ex-teammate accountable for making false accusations.”The ex-teammate has gone to some media outlets with photos showing bruises on parts of his body and claimed they were the results of Kim’s assault. Best Way said it will press further charges of defamation and will continue to seek legal action against further attacks on Kim’s character.Kim and the ex-teammate were both with the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization, though the latter only toiled in the minors before retiring in 2017. The two had kept in contact afterward.Kim is coming off his best season in Major League Baseball. He won a Gold Glove at utility position, becoming the first Asian-born infielder to capture the top defensive prize, while 스포츠토토존 also setting career highs with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs and 38 steals. 

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