KBO players’ average salary surpasses W200 million ($166,000)

February 12, 2016

Kim Tae-kyun of Hanwha Eagles tops list with 1.6 billion won ($1.33 million) 

rom left are Yoon Suk-min of the Kia Tigers; Lee Seung-youp of the Samsung Lions; Jung Woo-ram of the Hanwha Eagles; and Kim Tae-kyun of the Hanwha Eagles. (Graphic by Cho Sang-won)

rom left are Yoon Suk-min of the Kia Tigers; Lee Seung-youp of the Samsung Lions; Jung Woo-ram of the Hanwha Eagles; and Kim Tae-kyun of the Hanwha Eagles. (Graphic by Cho Sang-won)

By Nam Hyun-woo

The average salary of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League players surpassed 200 million won (about $166,000) a year in 2016, data from the professional baseball body showed Thursday.

According the data, the average amount of each of 10 KBO clubs’ 27 top-paid players’ annual salary recorded 216.2 million won ($179,000), up 11.9 percent from last year’s 193.25 million won ($160,000). The KBO uses 27-man roster for KBO League games. Imported players’ salaries were not included in the amount.

The numbers shows the KBO’s sizable growth during its 35-year history.

The 2016 amount jumped 18-fold from the 12.15 million won average annual salary in 1982 when the KBO was inaugurated and only had one league.

Other than the average annual salary, the number of players whose annual earnings surpassed a 100 million won also skyrocketed during that period.

The first player to get paid more than 100 million won was Jang Myeong-bu of now defunct Sammi Superstars in 1985. The Samsung Lions had one player paid over 100 million won in 1986 and 1987, respectively, but there was no such player afterwards until pitcher Sun Dong-yol in 1993.

From then, the baseball industry has grown significantly. The number of players who earned more than 100 million won a year reached 14 in 1997, and then soared to 110, in 2010.

This year, over 148 players will be paid over 100 million won and 52 of them will receive more than 400 million won ($332,000). The average wage of all 526 players registered to the KBO this year, including the KBO League and secondary Futures League, is 126.56 million won, excluding rookies and imported players. A total of 616 players have registered with the KBO this year.

Also, the annual salary of the highest paid player in the league has jumped 67-fold during the last 35 years.

In 1982, the highest paid player was Park Chul-soon of the OB Bears (now the Doosan Bears), who received 24 million won ($19,000). Kim Tae-kyun of the Hanwha Eagles now earns 1.6 billion won ($1.33 million).

Kim has been KBO’s highest paid Korean player for five straight years and is the first player to surpass one billion won, after he signed a 1.5 billion-won deal in 2012. After Kim, Kang Min-ho received 1 billion won with a free agent deal in 2014. Last year, SK Wyverns’ Choi Jeong and then Doosan Bears’ Chang Won-jun each received 1 billion won; while Yoon Suk-min earned 1.25 billion won upon his return to the KBO from the Baltimore Orioles. The Lions’ Lee Seung-yuop and the Eagles’ Jung Woo-ram joined them this year on 1 billion won.

Among 10 KBO clubs, the Eagles will pay the most money to its players this year ― an average 332.41 million won each ― followed by the Lions at 272.22 million won and the Lotte Giants with 235.85 million won.

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