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Baseball: Korea's Wonders slam KBO's "broken promise"

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Goyang Wonders have expressed anger at not being allowed to join the minor leagues next year, accusing the Korea Baseball Organisation (KBO) of breaking a promise to allow the team to join the professional ranks.

General manager Ha Song told local media on Wednesday that KBO officials had reneged on a pledge to let the Wonders join the lower-tier Futures League in 2013.

"As one of the preconditions for launching our ball club, the KBO had promised that we would be in the Futures League by 2013," Ha was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

"But the KBO simply told us that we will play 48 games in 2013 again. The KBO has given us no reason for that."

The Wonders, the only independent club with no league affiliation in South Korea, played 48 unofficial games against minor league affiliates of top-flight clubs since being founded a year ago.

This year, five teams in the northern division played 92 games and six clubs in the south played 100 games in the Futures League.

The Wonders, based just north-west of Seoul made up of journeymen players, undrafted high school and college graduates, and former American minor leaguers, wanted 100 games in 2013.

"Our guys need to be playing an established schedule, with six straight games (and one day off)," added Ha. "That will help them stay in game shape and really showcase their talent.

"This year, there were times when we had as many as 10 days off between games, and it was difficult to operate a team that way."

The Wonders are managed by Kim Sung-keun, a triple KBO championship winner, and posted a 20-21 record with seven ties in 2012, while losing five players poached by KBO clubs.

Ha said the club were looking no further than playing minor league baseball.

"We have no intention of joining the top league," he said. "We want to continue to give dreams and hopes to young players who would otherwise give up baseball."

The club's complaints, however, fell on deaf ears with the KBO.

"They were the ones that demanded to play 100 games, and we decided we would review the possibility after one season," said KBO operations chief Jeong Geum-jo.

"After watching them play this year, we feel that they're not yet good enough to handle a 100-game schedule."

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien)

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