Posted on 11 June 2013.
South Korean baseball All-Star Kim Tae-kyun recently apologized for insensitive remarks he made during a baseball radio show according to Yonhap News reporter Yoo Jee-ho.
In an interview that aired Monday on Radio Ball, a Naver Internet radio show, the Hanwha Eagles slugger was asked about facing Shane Youman of the Lotte Giants who is considered one of the toughest pitchers in the league. Kim apparently replied that, ”Youman’s face is so black and that makes his teeth seem whiter. When he smiles on the mound as he throws, I tend to lose the ball in his teeth. That has fooled me often.”
Kim did not make those remarks on the air, but instead they were repeated by the show’s host from what Kim had told him. Regardless, there has been an uproar for Kim to apologize, and that is just what he did hours after the broadcast when he issued this statement through the Eagles:
“Regardless of the truth of the comments, I’d like to offer Youman my apology,” Kim was quoted as saying by the team. “I had meant to tell the reporter that Youman’s delivery makes him a difficult pitcher to hit against from a hitter’s perspective, and that he’s a great player.”
Kim has experience playing in a foreign league after spending the 2010 and parts of the 2011 seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines, ironically the same company that owns the Lotte Giants that Youman plays for in Korea. The KBO has allowed imported players since 1998, and many African-Americans have played there including the first foreign MVP Tyrone Woods.
Youman spoke with the news outlet Busan Haps in response to Kim’s remarks and had this to say:
“After hearing about Kim Tae-kyun from my translator initially I laughed, and said it was ok, not a problem, people make mistakes. After I thought about it for a bit, I became a little upset which is the initial reaction from someone who hears about something that’s potentially racist towards them. No matter your ethnic background, you will either feel hurt, anger, or both when it comes to racism towards you.
As far as being here in Korea, I’ve never felt that my race, or nationality has played a role in how I’ve been treated. Then again, I’d never know, because I don’t speak Korean (lol).”
You can read more of Youman’s response here at BusanHaps.com.
Only time will tell if this story dies down and goes away. I have seen many post on different message boards that this might have been a cultural misunderstanding and that Kim didn’t mean anything harmful by it. However, had this been a foreign player commenting on a Korean player it would have stirred up a hornet’s nest that might never go away.
The question I am waiting to be answered, is will Kim be fined or suspended at all. What are your thoughts on this?