About 3 minutes reading time.

Korea Baseball Organization Umpires Caught Covering Up Missed Call

 Conor Liguori  |    Apr 16th, 2024 11:30am EDT

Head coach, Matt Williams of KIA Tigers talks with umpires. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

On Sunday, KBO umpires Lee Min-ho, Moon Seong-hoon, and Chu Pyung-ho were caught on a hot mic trying to cover up a missed call in a game between the NC Dinos and the Samsung Lions.  

In the bottom of the third inning of Sunday’s game, home plate umpire Moon Seong-hoon called a pitch thrown by Dinos’ starter Lee Jae-hak a ball, even though the automated ball strike system (ABS) registered it as a strike. ABS uses a tracking system to determine whether a pitch is a ball or a strike and relays the correct call to the home plate umpire through an earpiece.  

 Lee Jae-hak threw three more pitches before Kang In-kwon, the NC Dinos manager, came out of the dugout to argue the ball that should have been called a strike. ABS was delayed in showing Kang the correct call on a tablet in the dugout, leading the umpires to reject his appeal on the pitch. The umpiring crew argued that Kang should have appealed the pitch directly after the call.  

 Despite crew chief Lee Min-ho announcing the decision not to overturn the pitch call over the stadium loudspeakers, the umpires were caught on a hot mic attempting to cover up their mistake during the game broadcast.  

“We should tell people you heard the ‘ball’ call. Understand? That is the only way we can get out of this,” Lee told Moon over the hot mic.  

 Agreeing with what Lee was saying, Moon told him, “Yes.”  

“So just make sure to say what you heard was ‘ball.’ If you don’t want us to get hammered for this, you have to listen to me,” Lee told Moon.  

 The KBO determined the correct call on the pitch was a strike, as shown through ABS. On Monday, the KBO announced that the three umpires would not work more games until league officials determined further disciplinary action.  

“We consider this to be an extremely serious matter,” the KBO said in a statement on Monday. “We will take stern disciplinary steps as necessary.”  

According to Yonhap News Agency, the KBO held an emergency meeting to further review the automated ball strike system.  

The KBO announced in October 2023 the implementation of ABS and a pitch clock to ensure accuracy and decrease game length. Also in October, the Yonhap News Agency reported that the average time of a nine-inning KBO game in 2023 was three hours and 12 minutes.  


Major League Baseball introduced a pitch clock at the start of the 2023 season but has yet to implement an automatic ball-strike system despite using robot umpires in the minor leagues.