The Scandal That Shook the K-pop Industry

On February 2019, one of the biggest scandals arose to flip the image of the K-pop industry upside down. A scandal that originally started off with one person has uncovered the involvement of at least six more celebrities (with more to be revealed). It all began two months ago with one of K-pop’s biggest stars, a member of Big Bang, Seungri. CCTV footage of an assault was found at a club he owned called “Burning Sun.” Since then, allegations have been held against a group of people for sexual assault and bribing of the police community.

As time passed on, more and more text conversations began to surface, stirring up trouble for many celebrities.

Lee Seung-hyun, more commonly known as Seungri from Big Bang, Source by The Straits Times

Though they were able to hide it for a while, eventually Korean news outlet ‘SBS funE’ released screenshots of texts in a KakaoTalk (a popular Korean messaging app) group chat that Seungri created between him and three other people. This evidence suggested his involvement in providing sexual services to VIP members of the club in exchange for financial support. When the news hit headlines, YG Entertainment—the company Seungri was working under—issued a statement to delete the texts. The police were ordered to further investigate the case. On February 27, Seungri voluntarily went over to the police for questioning over his drug use allegations and provision of sexual services in his club which later uncovered a deeper truth. Though, till this day, he still hasn’t been formally charged, Seungri is not denying any of the charges that are against him.

Jung Joon-young arriving at the police station for questioning on March 12, 2019, Source by Billboard

As time passed on, more and more text conversations began to surface, stirring up trouble for many celebrities. Another famous singer-songwriter and entertainer Jung Joon-young admitted to illicitly recording women he slept with, later sharing them online through a KakaoTalk group chat. Police found that he recorded videos of at least ten women without their consent and revealed some of them might have been drugged.

“I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a chatroom, and while doing so, I didn’t feel much guilt,” Jung Joon-young mentioned in a statement on March 12.

Since March 23, the court has finally decided to sentence him to seven years of imprisonment with two charges: hidden camera sex tapes and circulating them without the victims’ consent.

Choi Jong-hoon at the police station after it was reported that he had shared a photo of a woman sleeping in a group chatroom, Source by Soompi

The scandal that began with allegations of drugs and violence at Seoul’s Burning Sun nightclub has since implicated several celebrities: K-pop stars, such as Choi Jong-hoon of F.T. Island, Yong Jun-hyung of Highlight, and Lee Jong-hyun from the band CNBLUE were all reported to have watched videos that were shared and additionally replied with lewd comments. This then led to each of them leaving all the programs they were a part of, including their own company.

Korean actress Park Han-byul, Source by Allkpop

Not only that, even those who supposedly had nothing to do with the situation were dragged into this, merely from the connections they had with those who were. Take Park Han-byul, actress and wife of Yoo In Suk, the former CEO of the company ‘Yuri Holdings’ (which owns Burning Sun), cofounded with Seungri. Because of her relationship with her husband who is implicated in the scandal, viewers have asked for the actress to be removed from her role in “Love In Sadness,” a romantic melodrama.

Renowned Korean celebrities Cha Tae-hyun & Kim Jun-ho resigned after a gambling scandal, Source by Allkpop

This was only one scandal. After Jung Joon-young was caught, following the uncovering of other text conversations, more scandals have arisen. It was announced that comedian Kim Jun-ho and actor Cha Tae-hyun, members of a popular Korean entertainment show “2 Days & 1 Night,” were involved in gambling, though they explained that it was a “joke wager.” With gambling being illegal in Korea, the messages between the two men were controversial. Both then officially announced that they would be stepping down from all of their programs.

The news of Cha Tae-hyun’s scandal was one of the most shocking as he is the father of three lovable young children. He stated, “As a father, I’m extremely sorry to my children and to my family, and I will take time to reflect on my own actions. I apologize.”

Journalist Steven Borowiec commented that “talking to friends and acquaintances this week, I have found unanimous consensus that the men implicated in this case are guilty of deplorable crimes, but there is still plenty of uncertainty that the K-pop industry will undergo significant change, or even that the accused will face serious punishment.” As days pass, more information and new details continue to branch from what was originally supposed to be a single case. Who will be the next revealed?

Author: Hyun Ju

Hyun Ju Lee is currently a junior and this is her first year working for The Eye. She was born in Boston, United States, but her parents are both Korean and this is her 14th year living in Singapore. As a hobby, she really likes to draw both digitally and on paper, listen to music, and binge watch korean dramas and variety shows. In addition, she also really loves animals and food. She can be contacted at lee46856@sas.edu.sg.

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