Lee Kang-in makes public apology for fighting Son Heung-min

By Hoang Nguyen   March 20, 2024 | 02:27 am PT
As South Korea prepare for a World Cup qualifier clash with Thailand, Lee Kang-in publicly expressed regret for involving in a brawl with team captain Son Heung-min in the 2023 Asian Cup last month.
A screenshot of Lee Kang-in talking to South Korean media during a training session on March 20, 2024

A screenshot of Lee Kang-in talking to South Korean media during a training session on March 20, 2024.

"Thank you all for coming here. I want to express my gratitude to coach Hwang Sun-hong for giving me this opportunity," Lee told the media at a training session on Wednesday, one day ahead of the World Cup qualification match.

The midfielder apologized to fans for "disappointing" them at the 2023 Asian Cup despite their support and encouragement.

He admitted that he had made a mistake that he later regretted. The PSG midfielder also said he spent a lot of time reflecting in the issue.

"From now on, I must strive to not only become a good player but also a good person. I must try to become a role model. I promise to work hard to become such a person in the future," Lee said.

The fight between Son, 31, and his 23-year-old teammate Lee occurred during dinner on Feb. 5, one day before the squad's 0-2 defeat to Jordan in the cup's semifinal. Son reprimanded a group of young players, including Lee, for making loud and disruptive noises while playing ping-pong in the national team's dining room.

After being provoked by Lee, Son grabbed his shirt. Lee is said to have thrown a punch toward Son. Although it didn't connect, Son's finger was dislocated when other teammates try to stop the fight.

When the story broke out on Feb. 14, the media and fans called it the biggest scandal in history of South Korea national football team. After the incident, Lee was the center of backlash when fans boycotted him and brands terminated advertising contracts with him.

After Lee and Son reconciled, they were both named in the South Korea squad for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Thailand on March 21 and 26.

During South Korea's press conference before the match against Thailand on Wednesday, captain Son said one of the first things Lee did when he met the national team was to make a sincere apology in front of all the players.

Son added that Lee's apology was accepted. He also praised his teammate for having great courage.

"Lee Kang-in is very brave. I think the players accepted his apology. This is also an opportunity for the South Korea national team to become more united," Son said.

The forward also recalled when Lee flew to London to meet him in person and the two worked together to resolve all issues.

"I think it took a lot of courage for him to come to England and apologize to me first. I think everyone has times when they make mistakes and the important thing is what we learn from those mistakes," Son added.

go to top