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?
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.
After Jung Joon Young’s sex scandal, 2 other members of KBS’s ‘2 Days & 1 Night’ are now under fire for illegal gambling.
On March 17, KBS announced their variety show ‘2 Days & 1 Night’ will be going on an indefinite hiatus following Jung Joon Young’s sex scandal and Cha Tae Hyun & Kim Joon Ho’s gambling scandal. The 3rd season of KBS’s ‘2 Days & 1 Night’ has been airing every Sunday at 6:10 PM (KST), will no longer be airing or producing new episodes. That time slot will be substituted with ‘Happy Sunday, Superman is Back’.
Previously after Jung Joon Young’s sex scandal was in the headlines, the show decided to edit out all of Jung Joon Young’s scene. However, because the format of the show made editing out Jung Joon Young’s scenes difficult, they later decided to go on a hiatus until they could film new content.
Unfortunately for ‘2 Days & 1 Night’, KBS News 9 announced members Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Joon Ho’s illegal golf gambling scandal to everyone’s shock on March 16. Reports showed the chatroom of the ‘2 Days & 1 Night’ cast members where Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Joon Ho has bragged about their winnings. Resulting in the current predicament for ‘2 Days & 1 Night’.
The case of the late Jang Ja-yeon, a promising actress who took her life and set the entertainment industry ablaze, is finally making gains. But in the turmoil of several consecutive celebrity scandals, the news has failed to capture public attention.
When actress Jang Ja-yeon took her life in 2009, she left behind a letter detailing the abuse, mostly of a sexual nature at the hands of powerful men. Sadly this included people in her agency who were supposed to take care of her such as her manager Kim Sung-hoon. In addition to those details, she also left an extensive list of 31 perpetrators.
During the trials that followed, 20 people were investigated leading to seven indictments, which included Kim and the CEO of her previous agency. Conversely, the court acquitted more than ten influential figures, leaving room for suspicion.
In 2018, the case was reopened after SBS’ “News Room” reported that a key witnessed has her testimonies suppressed by investigators. The witness, at that time, only referred to by her surname “Yoon,” claimed to have provided crucial information including the identities of those she knows to be involved.
This week, this witness came forward revealing herself to be fellow actress Yoon Ji-oh.
On Tuesday, actress Yoon Ji-oh, one fo the only witnesses to the abuse the late Jang Ja-Yeon suffered, officially met with Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s investigation team. With them, she provided a full statement as part of the ongoing investigation that started in 2018. According to reports, Yoon mentioned one politician and three journalists who are known to be included in Jang’s infamous list.
However, the news of her statement was quickly buried under other reports. Instead, the evolving scandal involving Seungri, Jung Joon-young and their affiliates left little room for anything else. Seeing this lack of attention, Yoon spoke openly as she aired her frustrations and highlighted Jang’s case is equally important. “Each time Jang’s case comes up it is overlooked, but please pay more attention to it,” said Yoon to a group of reporters.
The next day on the 13th, Yoon took to social media where she wrote that she feels “so upset each time Jang’s case comes up, it seems like there’s an unusual amount of provocative issues” that overshadows it. Unfortunately, this may be the reality for the remaining investigation of Jung’s case. The prosecution’s committee on the investigation of the case will end its activities on the 31st. It is likely that the Seungri and Jung situation will last for the same period.
On another note, the people who are paying attention to the case have worked to ensure Yoon’s safety. A petition on the Blue Houses official website calling for Yoon to be protected given the value of her testimony surpassed 200,000 signatures this week.
The number of signatures ensures that it will get a response from a government official. According to Yoon’s social media post on the 13th, she has been granted special witness protection and moved into a special residence.
Yong Jun-hyung admitted claims about Jung Joon-young’s sex videos.
On March 14, Yong Jun-hyung wrote to Instagram to admit the claims about his involvement in the problematic group chat room.
“When I received the call about this from my agency, which was on March 11 right after the news report, I did not understand the point and told that I was not in the group chat,” he wrote. “When I said it was 2016 when I was talking to the agency to publish an official statement, I couldn’t check the exact date because the conversation with Jung Joon-young has been deleted. I understand that this caused confusions to many and I apologize.”
He went on to confess that he has received another video from Jung Joon-young in 2015. “I didn’t receive the video in 2016, but I’ve received another video. In addition, I shared an inappropriate conversation about it. Everything was very immoral and I was foolish. I did not realize that these were illegal and I thought about it too lightly. It’s also my fault not stopping him strictly.”
He had a police interview and expressed his will to admit his fault. He said, “Yesterday, I went to have a witness interview regarding the incident. I told everything as far as I know and cooperated with the investigation. Throughout the interview, I could clearly read what kind of things I said and I couldn’t help feeling shameful and miserable about it.”
Lastly, Yong Jun-hyung added that he is leaving HIGHLIGHT.
“I realized the weight of the incident. I don’t want to cause further harm to the members and those who must have been disappointed in me. So I will resign from the group on March 14, 2019. I will continue to reflect on what I’ve done over and over again. I once again apologize.”
Previously on March 11, Yong Jun-hyung promptly denied the suspicions regarding his involvement in the chat room.
Rapper Microdot has been laying low ever since a scandal involving his parents came to life, but decided to make a move to distance himself from Jung Joon-young.
On Wednesday, Shin Jae-ho, better known by his stage name Microdot, distanced himself from singer and TV celebrity Jung Joon-young. Last October, the two collaborated on the song “You,” which Shin advertised on his Instagram account.
However, with the recent revelations that Jung filmed and shared footage of 10 different women he has sexual relations with without their consent, the rapper deleted the ad. In particular, it is one of the few actions the artists has taken on social media since his own scandal broke last year. Further, he joins a growing list of celebrities and entertainers who are separating themselves from Jung.
During the financial crisis in the 1990s, Shin’s parents borrowed money from friends and took out loans with no intention of paying them back. The now senior couple left to start life anew in New Zealand where they have prospered. Now, with the negative effects, the situation has caused their son, the couple is now actively taking steps to settle the matter.
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.)