It’s arguably one of the biggest scandals that upended the South Korean entertainment industry and the country. A series of investigations into corrupt and illicit activities in the nightlife and entertainment industries and possibly police corruption, have been reportedly revealed among multiple high-profiled Korean entertainers. Here’s a brief guide on what’s been happening and who has been involved so far:
Nicknamed South Korea’s ‘Great Gatsby’ for his lavish lifestyle, Seungri is at the centre of the scandal for a slew of severe allegations, that includes soliciting prostitutes for businessmen at one of Seoul’s upscale night clubs and watching spycam porn.
Though Seungri denied any wrongdoings and YG Entertainment’s stocks took a tumble, he abruptly retired from the entertainment industry last week to protect the reputation of the music agency and mega boy band Big Bang.
The case was opened up following investigations of Burning Club, which was involved in illegal activities. Korean SBS funE reporter Kang Kyung Yoon revealed chat conversations between a circle of male entertainers, including Seungri, discussing illicit and illegal situations and joked about drugging and raping women. It also showed the star supplying prostitutes to prospective business investors.
Last Wednesday, singer and television personality Jung Joon-young confessed to having secretly filmed and shared sexually explicit footage of at least 10 women he slept with without their consent in a KakaoTalk chat room (South Korea’s dominant messaging app) that allegedly included other Korean entertainers between 2015 and 2016.
The women were reported to be rookie entertainers and university students in their 20s. He confessed he “didn’t feel a great sense of guilt” when uploading the film footage in the group chat.
Two days after Seungri retired following a string of scandals, Jung, who rose to fame on a TV talent show, was axed from his agency and faced police investigation for his alleged illegal activities.
Last Thursday, rapper-songwriter Yong Jun-hyung, 29, apologised and announced his departure from boy band Highlight, formerly known as Beast, after confirming to the knowledge and viewership of the illicit sex video taken by singer Jung Joon-young, who shared it via one-on-one KakaoTalk messages. He also admitted that he participated in “inappropriate conversations” about it in December 2015.
“All these behaviours were extremely unethical, and I was stupid,” he said on Instagram, according to a translation by Yonhap News Agency.
Yong was not part of the controversial group chat with Jung and Seungri and has denied it himself.
Hours after Yong Jun-hyung’s announcement, FNC Entertainment announced that FT Island’s leader and guitarist Choi Jong-hoon will leave the rock band and will permanently retire from the entertainment industry amid allegations of benefiting from police corruption and favouritism as well as alleged involvement in the sex scandal.
Screenshots of chat conversations were disclosed, revealing messages that hinted the singer of having asked a high-ranking police official to cover his DUI from appearing in the newspapers three years ago.
Choi is also under investigation on suspicion of illegally sharing a photo/video of a woman sleeping in the group chat room.
Lee Jong-hyun, a member of idol rock band CNBLUE, was also reported to be involved in the in the controversial chat room.
FNC Entertainment confirmed that their artist, who is currently serving in the country’s mandatory military, viewed Jung Joon-young’s footage and made inappropriate remarks that degraded women.
South Korean cable TV network MBN reported that the hidden camera videos and photos were shared between eight people — Seungri, Jung Joon-young, Choi Jong-hoon, CEO Yoo of Yoori Holdings, club employee Kim, a former YG employee, relative of a girl group member and a friend of Jung Joon Young — in the chat room. Yong Jun-hyung and Lee Jong-hyun were part of separate chats.
The plethora of allegations continue to gain widespread attention in South Korea. This scandal goes beyond the squeaky-clean world of K-Pop and is part of a wider problem in South Korea. It delves into issues like drugs, prostitution, sex bribery, police corruption and hidden cameras, known as molka.
In addition to being acquainted with Yoo In Suk, a senior Superintendent Officer has already confessed he used his position to cover up a former FT Island member’s DUI in 2016 and other activities.
Police are still investigating, and suspects have been taken in for questioning.