Hong Man Choi Receives Suspended Jail Sentence for Unpaid Debt

John Kim, Jan. 14, 2016, 8:30 a.m.

A South Korean mixed martial arts fighter received a one-year jail term for not paying back money he borrowed from his acquaintances. Still, the Seoul Eastern District Court suspended the sentence for two years, meaning that Choi Hong-man can participate in a K-1 competition scheduled to be held in either Seoul or Beijing between March and April. Choi will not have to serve prison time if he stayed out of trouble during that period.

The court convicted the 35-year-old of borrowing some HK$710,000 (US$110,600) in Hong Kong in 2013, saying he needed it to buy watches for himself and his girlfriend, which he did not pay back. He was also accused of borrowing 25.5 million won from another acquaintance in October 2014, which he also did not pay back.

"The defendant acknowledges his faults and reached a deal with the two acquaintances to settle the issue," the court said. "(I) took into consideration that the victims do not want (Choi) to be punished and that he has no other criminal record." Choi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Choi was a former champion of "ssirum" -- a traditional Korean form of wrestling. In 2004, he made a splash by switching from the embattled sport of ssirum to the K-1 mixed martial arts league.



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