PITTSBURGH, Pa. (KDKA) — In an unexpected development, Jung Ho Kang has been granted US work visa, re-entered the United States and will rejoin the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the team announced on Thursday.
“After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter to the United States,” said Pirates president, Frank Coonelly. “We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the game he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.
“As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”
Kang issued a statement to apologize for his actions and to say he is grateful for a second chance.
“Most importantly, I want to apologize to my family, friends, teammates, the Pirates organization, Pirates fans and anyone else who has been negatively affected by my regretful actions. I am deeply sorry.”
“I am very grateful to the U.S. government for giving me a second chance to demonstrate my pride in and appreciation for being allowed to continue my dream of playing Major League Baseball in the United States. I am also thankful for the support of Major League Baseball, the Pirates, my teammates and our fans. Their strong support has been a driving force and motivation for me during the past year.”
“I am extremely appreciative of the efforts of my attorney Amy Maldonado, my consulting attorney Javad Khazaeli and my agents at Octagon. Their resilient efforts on my behalf and strong belief in me as a person has helped make this second opportunity possible. I am forever grateful.”
“After a long, painful process, I am excited to have a chance to return to the game that I have missed so much. My focus is first on becoming the best person that I can be. Secondly, I look forward to getting to Pirate City and demonstrating that I am committed to doing whatever I can to get back to Pittsburgh and help the Pirates win. I will not disappoint anyone anymore.”
Kang, 31, has not played for the Pirates since being convicted of a third drunk-driving offense in South Korea in January 2017. The most recent incident occurred on Dec. 2, 2016, when he was charged with leaving the scene of a DUI accident in Seoul.
Kang was denied a work visa and was unable to travel from his homeland to play in Pittsburgh last season.
Kang, who had 21 home runs and 62 RBIs in 2016, would join a Pirates team that has been up and down early this season. After a hot start, they are now 14-11 and in third place in the Central Division.