Singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young has been arrested. It is the first celebrity arrest in the “Burning Sun Gate” scandal.
On Thursday at 8:50 p.m., police arrested singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young on charges of violating the Sexual Violence Crime Laws. With his arrest, Jung becomes the first entertainer to be arrested in connection with the “Burning Sun Gate,” the title given the convoluted investigations of those connected to nightclub Burning Sun, Lee Seung-hyun, popularly known as Seungri, and Jung Joon-young.
Appear at the court at 9:35 a.m. on the same day, police questioned Jung hours before his arrest from 10:30 in the morning to 12:17 in the afternoon. Prior to the warrant hearing, Jung stood before the press where he apologized using a prepared script. “I’m really sorry,” he said, and “I committed an unpardonable crime. I accepted all the charges against me. Today, we will not argue over the allegation and follow the court’s judgment.”
Jung also issued an apology to those he victimized. “I once again apologize to the victims. I apologize to all of the women who have been damaged through no fault of their own, and to all those who have shown interest and affection to me so far. For now on, I will sincerely cooperate with the investigation process and reflect on what I have done for the rest of my life.”
Jung wept while reading the apology and stopped talking at once point due to his tears. However, he did not answer questions from reporters following his statement. In particular, Jung kept mum on whether he received consent from the victims before share the illegally filmed videos.
As a result, public criticism of Jung as intensified. Many say that his “crocodile tears” were fake and just a device to avoid arrest. However, tears are not a valid legal reason for police to not complete an arrest warrant.
On the day of the arrest, Lim Min-sung who is a judge at the Seoul District Court, said that with the status of crucial material evidence submitted, the circumstances of and after the crimes were committed, and the progression of the investigation so far that the “reason for the arrest of the accused and its considerable validity are recognized.” Further, there was also a concern that Jung may destroy evidence, although he has submitted three mobile phones for digital forensic investigation.
Jung is suspected of spreading filming and sharing sex videos in group chatrooms he shared with other celebrities without permission. Some of the stars in these chatrooms include Lee Seung-hyun, former Highlight member Yong Jun-hyung, former F.T. Island Choi Jong-hoon, and CNBLUE member Lee Jong-hyun. Additionally, authorities believe that Jung shared at least ten videos since late 2015.
The current investigation involving Burning Sun, Seungri, Jung Joon-young and their associates are one side of a coin. On the other side being Jang Ja-yeon’s life, death, and legacy.
Police have been having a busy 2019. For the past few weeks, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has taken on multiple cases revolving around former BIGBANG member Lee Seung-hyun, popularly known as Seungri, and singer and TV celebrity Jung Joon-young that involves sex trafficking, creating and sharing illegal sexual footage, using and distributing drugs, rape, and collusion with corrupt police.
As the investigation of the two moves forward, several other K-pop idols including Highlight’s Yong Jun-hyung and F.T. Island’s Choi Jong-hoon become implicated in these allegations, their cases have started to expose the seedy underbelly of the K-pop world.
Past reports exposing unfair “slave” contracts, abusive and intense rehearsal and training sessions, and agencies’ tendency to overwork their talent for profit have painted the mechanisms fueling the K-pop machine in a negative light. However, adding in the factor that the stars themselves can be equally unethical adds another profound layer of grime to the picture. It illustrates that the issues exposed in these investigations and the actions that these stars engaged in are a result of larger societal factors.
These factors include but are not limited what Crystal Tai, a writer for South China Morning Post argues is “South Korea’s culture of toxic masculinity” and what Haeryun Kang, a freelance journalist and editor, says it is the “pervasive power inequality between men and women in countless, unseen sectors of Korean society.”
Indeed it is clear that Lee, Jung, and other men who were empowered in their masculinity, fame, and wealth, took advantage of several women wrongfully and illegally for their benefit, entertainment, and pleasure. While Lee and Jung’s victims have not publically identified themselves out of fear, they do have a voice in the form of the late Jang Ja-yeon and her advocate Yoon Ji-oh.
Like these unknown women, the talented, pretty, and well-liked Jang Ja-yeon was victimized by men in positions of considerable power including show producers, journalists, media and entertainment executives at the behest of her agent Kim Sung-hoon who pimped her out for preferential treatment.
Jang revealed this information in a seven-page letter with a list of 31 names she left behind after taking her life just five months after her debut movie role as Sunny in 2009’s film Boys Over Flowers. Notably, while her case was hastily closed in trials following her death, it was reopened in the midst of the 2018 #MeToo movement after prosecutors discovered ack of conduct on behalf of the investigators at the time.
Currently, her case is ongoing with details unfolding alongside Lee Seung-hyun’s and Jung Joon-young’s, acting as a ying to their yang. The interesting juxtaposition of these investigations plays like two sides of the same coin.
On one side are the salacious details of powerful men uninterested in the rule of law as they drugged, raped, filmed, and trafficked women for their own means. On the other, is the heartbreaking tale of a woman who was on the receiving end of their dehumanization and is an example of the real-life consequence to their actions.
Unfortunately, I may have painted Jang as too much of victim. Jang’s side of the coin shouldn’t be viewed as a sad and powerless story, but also as a woman who sought change. Her friend and advocate Yoon Ji-oh who witnessed some of the abuse Jang endured said that she doesn’t believe (link in Korean) that the seven-page letter Jang wrote was a suicide note. Instead, Jang intended those pages of papers were to act as legal documents to enact justice.
But how that coin will land? Will it heads where justice is served a movement to rejects the actions of these men and to expose and punish those like them? Or will it be tails, where only the surface is cleaned but the scum beneath remains?
In the process of their investigation of the charges put against former BIGBANG member Seungri, authorities believe that the former singer solicited prostitutes in both 2015 and 2017.
According to an MBN report on Wednesday, police secured a statement that there were sexual services or prostitution rings at Seungri’s, real name Lee Seung-hyun, birthday party in Palawan, the Philippines, in 2017.
The police have contacted a man who reportedly gathered the women for the birthday party. Additionally, they are also looking to investigate the women said to have been at the event.
News of this allegation is in addition to charges that Lee attempted to secure prostitutes for potential foreign business investors back in 2015, according to Kakao Talk messages revealed by SBS FunE News. As a result, the police investigation is expected to gain momentum as they work to uncover more information on the allegations against Lee.
As the investigations involving K-pop celebrities — namely the Burning Sun and Jung Joon-young cases — have exploded internationally due to their seemingly infinite layers of intrigue, corruption, and collusion, President Moon Jae-In has called for a thorough investigation of the cases.
On Monday, President Moon Jae-In released a public order for the Burning Sun, Jung Joon-young, and Jang Ja-yeon cases to be thoroughly investigated. In a powerful televised statement, the president laid bare some of the most challenging aspects of the ongoing cases including corruption and public sentiment:
“Even though there is a lot of public suspicions, there are cases where the truth has not been revealed for many years or has even been concealed.The common characteristic [of these cases] is that they have occurred in the privileged class of society and the prosecution and police have shown signs of intentional mismanagement […] actively obstructed the search for the truth and concealed it from the people […]If we don’t find out the truth of these cases, which took place in the socially privileged class, we won’t be able to speak of a just society,” said the president.”
Notably, as a result of him including and speaking of Jang’s case, which was to close at the end of March, it has officially been extended by two months to May. Even so, a decade has passed since the case first started in 2009 and the 15-year statute of limitation regarding sexual crimes may still be upheld.
The renewed momentum into the Jang case seems to have little effect on Yoon Ji-oh, an actress and friend of the late Jang. In particular, Yoon is one of the only people to come forward as a witness to abuse that her friend endured at the hands of powerful men.
Furthermore, since revealing her identity in the process of this reopened case, she has continued to pursue justice with unwavering passion and purpose aided by those seeking a just end to the investigation as well.
On the same day as President Moon’s announcement, Yoon took to social media where she expressed her gratitude. Today for the first time in a long time, since my past 15 testimonies, I see the light,” said Yoon. “I have so much gratitude and respect for all of you. Although I am lacking and weak you all have protected and supported me” and “I will continue to testify in good faith,” she said, thanking the president and her advocates.
The attention brought to the matter by President Moon, the country’s most public political figure, is an answer to concerns that Yoon voiced last week. After attending a session with investigators where she provided her 14th testimony on the Jang case, Yoon expressed consternation over the lack of media and public attention. “Each time Jang’s case comes up it is overlooked, but please pay more attention to it,” she said.
As Yoon continues her public campaign for truth, it is yet to be seen whether the same energy will be transferred to prosecutors and the court where justice will ultimately be tested.
Jung Joon Young’s ruling for illegal filming and sharing sexual content is expected to be 7 years and 6 months in prison.
On March 18, OSEN reports the expected sentence for Jung Joon Young is 7 years and 6 months according to the segment aired on the same day by MBC’s ‘Section TV’. On the show, Lawyer Oh Soo Jin stated Jung Joon Young’s crime of filming (body parts) without consent using cameras. In addition, based on the most recent reports of prostitution allegations Jung Joon Young could be sentenced to a maximum of 1.5x the usual sentencing.
In Korea, the sentence for sexual assault is maximum 5 years. For Jung Joon Young who could be sentenced for sexual assault, illegal filming and sharing, prostitution etc. could result to a ruling of 7 years and 6 months in prison. In addition he would be registered as an offender.
Seungri returned home after being investigated by police overnight. As the seriousness of the investigation grows, the former singer looks to postpone his military enlistment.
At 6:14 am Friday, police released Seungri, real name Lee Seung-hyun, after questioning for about 16 hours. Lee, who had appeared at the Seoul Metropolitan Police agency around 2 p.m. the day before, was investigated overnight as a suspect.
Have gone through more than 20 hours of police questioning with more likely to come, Lee is expected to officially apply for the postponement of his enlistment at the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) today. The MMA is part of South Korea’s Ministry of Defense responsible for the compulsatory military conscription that all Korean men of age must oblige. Additionally, they are also charged with handling and fulfilling other critical personnel needs.
Speaking to a group of reporters, Lee said that he participated in the investigation sincerely and that “as of today, I will officially apply to the [MMA] for a postponement of my enlistment,” and “I will postpone the date of my enlistment and show that I am sincerely [participating in] the investigation until the end.”
Lee is suspected of distributing drugs, assault, sexual assault, collusion with the police, soliciting prostitutes, and tax evasion. When the scandal was just beginning to break, he voluntarily appeared before police on Feb. 27. At that time, investigators questioned him overnight for approximately 8.5 hours where he also took a drug test that came back negative. Moreover, he also submitted a petition asking the authorities to investigate him thoroughly so as to settle any matter completely.
In addition to the charges related to club Burning Sun and sing Jung Joon-yong, new reports alleged that he gambled in Las Vegas in the U.S. One media outlet disclosed that he may even be involved in attempting to arrange an overseas sex trade. Reportedly, he sent picture and information of a woman to “A,” a representative or delegate who was in Indonesia at the time.
Meanwhile, earlier this week Lee announced his retirement from the entertainment industry via social media which was followed by an official statement by YG Entertainment.
Who exactly is Seungri, the hallyu star currently surrounded by various controversies in Korea?
Right now, whenever a Korean individual or Kpop fan hears or reads the 2 syllables Seungri, the first thing that comes to mind would be that celebrity who is in the news for various scandals. Keywords are likely to be Burning Sun assault, offering women to investors, illegal filming of sexual content, retirement, nation’s traitor etc. But just prior to a few months ago, Seungri was not a hated individual but a world star who’s influence was especially prominent in Asia.
Who is Seungri?
Seungri also known as Lee Seung Hyun was the maknae of Kpop’s global idol group, Big Bang. The 29 year old idol made his debut under YG Entertainment in 2006 with Big Bang to later become one of the most popular boy groups in the world. Seungri was one of the youngest singers during that time, merely 16 years old, when he stepped into the entertainment industry. Over the years, Seungri experienced various roles in the entertainment industry as singer, songwriter, actor, producer and entrepreneur.
Prior to controversy
Big Bang had their first break through in 2007 with the release of their first extended play ‘Always’, Big Bang took their place as one of the most influential artists as they focused on producing and creating their own songs. During this time, leader and producer G-Dragon was gaining more attention as fans from the group as his songs became hits setting records for continuously topping charts and sales. Some of G-Dragon’s earliest hits were ‘Lies’ (2007), ‘Last Farewell’ (2007), ‘But I Love U’ (2007).
With Big Bang’s continuously growing popularity, the group was having concerts within 7 months of debuting. As they continued to rise in popularity in Korea, they set their sights for Japan just one year after debut. During that year, the members had hectic schedules letting exhaustion pile up to the point G-Dragon, T.O.P and Seungri became hospitalized halting activities. Seungri already had an ankle injury when it was reported he later lost consciousness towards the end of a show on December 29, 2007. Later it was reported Big Bang had earned over $11.5 Million USD just in 2007. Considering inflation in 2019, 11.5 Million dollars was worth a lot more 12 years ago.
The following year in 2008, Big Bang was very successful in Japan becoming one of the groups to solidify the hallyu wave. By 2009, the group was pursuing solo activities during which each member focused on nurturing their individual talents. Seungri was well known for wanting to “shed” his maknae image at this time for a more mature look. He won his first award with his solo ‘Strong Baby’ tasting his individual success at the age of 19.
In the following years, Seungri continued his solo activities while also promoting as a member of Big Bang. He took on various acting roles, released more solo music, developed his DJ skills etc. Seungri was in some ways overshadowed by other Big Bang members in the entertainment industry. Once his hyungs went on hiatus for military service, Seungri’s popularity and activities undeniably surged.
Just a year ago, Seungri was the only Big Bang member who was not serving mandatory military service yet. As a result, his popularity was growing not only in South Korea but also abroad as the only Big Bang member ‘to hold the fort’ before he went on hiatus for his own mandatory military service in Spring 2019. He made several guest appearances on MBC’s ‘I Live Alone’ increasing his popularity as viewers learned he was a considerate, detail oriented person in addition to being a successful businessman.
After his segment in ‘I Live Alone’ was aired, Seungri was widely complimented for his successful ramen franchise company that has over 45 locations all over the world claiming annual earnings of approximately $96 Million USD. From then on, other successful businesses of the idol/entrepreneur was in the headlines like dance academy, clubs, DJ label etc.. Public perspective of Big Bang Seungri was shifting from an immature playboy often in the headlines because of scandals, clubbing and such to a mature and charismatic man. He went on to explain his tendency to pursue all forms of entertainment led him his success today as an entrepreneur in the show.
Seungri further explained on ‘I Live Alone’ that while his current businesses may seem successful he has experienced failure in previous business ventures. He stated he lost many things but learned from those incidents leading to his current identity (in 2018).
Shortly after Seungri’s image as a successful businessman continued to garner positive reception, he was reported to be the new CEO of YGX in June 2018. YGX is a subsidiary of YG Entertainment that merged with Seungri’s DJ label NHR.
This momentum unfortunately did not last as news about his club, Burning Sun’s alleged assault broke the headlines in January 2019. Kim posted online he was assaulted by security and police when he tried to help a female at the club. This case is currently under investigation and with so many articles with various information, the exact details has become unclear.
Soon after, news about Seungri lobbying to investors with prostitutes joined the headlines. It led to chaos in the entertainment industry as various prominent figures were identified during the investigation.
Park Han Byul’s husband was identified to be involved in this case affecting the actress’s long awaited return to the small screen in MBC’s ‘Love in Sadness’.
Shortly after, various celebrities including idols were implicated as many forms of “evidence” circulated on the Internet. Hours later, Seungri declared he would retire on his Instagram which was met with derision.
There are various rumors and speculations about the controversies surrounding Seungri, but this article will not be delving in that direction. Instead, the focus will be what may have led to such controversies in the first place. What makes this such a big deal would be because it forced a lot of the “dirty laundry” in the entertainment industry to become public. It’s not a simple matter of someone caught breaking the law. But of a world star as the cause of the controversies that led to implicating other influential people.
In Korea, there are many situations where superficially everyone verbally supports gender equality and put their faith in the LAW. However, behind closed quarters there’s corruption, bribery and connections that can solve many things. A common plot seen in Korean drama where a chaebol uses their power, money and influence to be above the law is not completely without a grain of truth. In reality, it isn’t just chaebols but also influential figures in all parts of society, not only in South Korea but in every other country of the world. Just a couple years ago, Korea was in complete chaos as a nation because of abused power. If you’re unaware, the previous Korean president was impeached in 2016.
Many foreigners are unaware of Korean culture that takes hierarchy, social connections, “specs” (Korean term for social economic status) etc. very seriously. For a general idea, I would personally recommend watching Misaeng (2014) starring Im Si Wan, Lee Sung Min and Kang Sora.
In Korea, there are still many people who work overtime without being able to request for overtime pay, sick leave and vacations. This is something I myself have experienced when I interned in Korea just a few years ago. Additionally, female employees are still pressured to pour alcohol for male colleagues. An example would be a scene in the beginning of episode 2 in JTBC’s ‘Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food’ (2018). Furthermore, prostitution is illegal but ‘red light districts’ do exist.
This isn’t the first time YG’s celebrities have caused waves in the industry because of scandals. There have been previous scandals in the entertainment industry because of sexual and physical assault, harassment, prostitution, illegal drugs, drunk driving, tax evasion, sponsorship, adultery, underage drinking etc. in all areas of the entertainment world.
Many of the celebrities who were implicated in various scandals mentioned above were able to return to the entertainment industry after a few years. This itself shows society may easily forget and forgive while failing to fix the actual problem resulting in lofty disdain for indiscretions and breaking the law.
The controversies surrounding Seungri aren’t exactly new in Korean society. Seungri’s status whether guilty or innocent doesn’t matter as much as the fact that he isn’t the first nor the last person who will be accused, indicted, investigated etc. There are others who have probably done the same things mentioned in the controversies and there may be more in the future regardless of whether indicted or not. Aside from investigating to find out the truth, I think it is important to consider what this means for Korean society and what can be done to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
There are a lot of things I could say about Seungri’s controversies that many may agree or disagree. No doubt I would be using lots of colorful vocabulary if I was to write about it. But taking a step back to see how someone who debuted at the young age of 16 ended up becoming called out as the “nation’s traitor” 14 years later, there’s probably various factorsin the entertainment industryand society that played a significant role in Seungri’s current situation.
Could it be Seungri’s controversies are being used to cover something even bigger? Just a passing thought seeing all the attention focused on entertainment these days instead of fine dust levels from China, N.Korea, economy etc. I suddenly remembered SBS’s drama Pinocchio (2014) starring Park Shin Hye and Lee Jong Suk. It’s a drama where the most powerful people hyped up celebrity news to hide conspiracies. (Crying because of Lee Jong Suk’s upcoming military hiatus.)
Seungri has declared his retirement from the entertainment industry. Netizens in Korea are rather scornful about his attitude.
Following a series of scandals that connect to serious crimes, Seungri released a retirement statement through Instagram. Below is the full statement translated:
This is Seungri.
I think it would be best if I retire from the entertainment industry at this point. I decided to retire because the issues that I’ve caused the societal disturbance with are too heavy. Regarding the issues that are being investigated, I will clear up the suspicions by cooperating diligently.
I’ve been receiving criticism and hate from the public for the past month and a half. And every investigation agencies are currently investigating me. As I’m branded as a nation’s traitor, I can’t tolerate myself causing harms to everyone around me to save myself.
I sincerely thank all the fans who have supported me for the past 10 years. I think I’m done here, for the honor of YG and BIGBANG.
Once again, I’m sorry. I have been thankful of everyone so far.
From the tone of the statement to the way it was delivered, many people on the internet are speaking how senseless it is. Take a look at the tweets below.
SR’s declaration of retirement brings nothing but a sneer. (It’s funny) how he thought he is in the position to ‘decide’ to retire at this point.
One of the comments on Seungri’s retirement article: “As if he is just leaving a group chat room”
It’s not a big deal to retire from the entertainment industry when he retired from being a human.
I read Seungri’s Instagram retirement statement and it’s so funny how it sounds so raw, like it wasn’t filtered by a lawyer. It sounds like an ex-boyfriend who realized that he was going to be dumped and break up with the girl first to feel braggy about being the one who dumped somebody. I can see that he is filled with anger based on the wording “nation’s traitor.” Dude, you sure were abandoned.”
Look at the first sentence lol. “I think it would be best if I retire” lol. Is he choosing what to have for lunch?
It’s so obvious that he is grinding his teeth. What is he saying about being labeled as a nation’s traitor? Are you feeling victimized? Lol. All I can feel from the statement is him complaining about being hated by people. What is him to think that he can calm the situation by his retirement? His retirement has nothing to do with the investigation.
Seungri, you retired on Instagram. Have your funeral on Instagram too.
Now that he retired from the entertainment industry he can debut at Seoul Southern Detention Center.
HIGHLIGHT’s Yong Jun-hyung and FT Island’s Lee Hong-gi have opened their mouths about Seungri’s group chat.
Previously, Jung Joon-Young has been accused of filming sexual footages and sharing them to the group chat room with Seungri and other celebrities whose names are yet to be revealed.
As the media report distinguished one of the chat room members by his last name Yong, the guesses are narrowed down to HIGHLIGHT’s member Yong Joon-hyung. About the accusation, Yong Jun-hyung said, “the reported contents are not true at all.”
“While I’m confused myself, I thought many would be worried or angry so I’m posting this myself,” said Yong Jun-hyung through Instagram. “I felt confused when the reports told me that I participated or was involved in this incident. At the same time, the fact that my name is mentioned in the incident like this made me reflect on myself.”
“Reported contents, which exclude previous or following contexts, are not true at all and I did not even realize that kind of incident happened at that time when I first heard about it,” he continued. “Some may find me guilty for just thoughtlessly asking back (in the chat room). I will make sure I’m careful with everything I say in the future.”
According to the media reports, Yong asked, “It was caught by the girl?” when Jung Jun-young said, “I was caught filming and sharing the videos lol.”
At the same time, Lee Hong-gi eased fans’ worries by making an appearance at a fan chat room. Previously, one of the reports accidentally did not delete Lee Hong-gi’s full name from the article about the chat room.
In the fans’ group chat room, Lee Hong-gi said, “Things got messed up overnight. Don’t worry. I will see you all at the live tomorrow,” in a rather light tone.
Although he did not mention the chat room directly, it seems like the singer is suggestively denying his participation in the chat room.
Kang Daniels legal representative refuted a report that the singer has been to Burning Son and other connections to Seungri.
“It is absolutely not the truth,” said Sun Jong-moon, an entertainment lawyer hired by Kang Daniel, regarding his connection to Seungri. “He has never met Seungri or gone to club Burning Sun,” he said.
Sun’s response comes after the broadcast of MBC’s “Section TV Entertainment News” on Monday. The episode delved into the conflict Kang is currently embroiled in with his agency LM Entertainment in its “hot people” section. The show contended that businessperson from Hong Kong who wants to support Kang’s solo career is the same Taiwanese financier who is one of the biggest investors in Burning Sun.
Moreover, when asked if Seungri is connected with the current conflict between the Kang and his label, Sun responded that it was also untrue. Sun completely denied that the BIGBANG member was involved in the. Additionally, Sun also said that he would be looking into the rumor and would take legal action if necessary.
Meanwhile, Kang who made his debut in Wanna One in 2017 after the second season of “Produce 101” on Mnet. This January, he left MMO Entertainment and signed an exclusive contract with LM Entertainment. Now it seems like the singer is not getting the support that he wants at the new agency. Although both sides are working toward an agreement, his solo debut slated for April is now in question.