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Police accelerate probe into Burning Sun scandal

Ock Hyun-ju

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

 /  Tue, March 19, 2019  /  06:31 pm
Police accelerate probe into Burning Sun scandal

Shamed: Seungri (center), a member of the K-pop boy group BIGBANG, bows as he arrives for questioning over criminal allegations at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Seoul on March 14. Seungri on March 11 announced his retirement from show business amid mounting criminal investigations including his alleged involvement in a sex-for-investments scandal. (AFP/Jung Yeon-Je)

Police on Tuesday accelerated a probe into nightclub Burning Sun, which has been marred by allegations of sexual assault, the illicit filming of sex videos, drug use and corrupt ties with police, as ministers vowed a thorough investigation and due punishment.

The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office asked a Seoul court to issue an arrest warrant for Jung Joon-young, a singer-songwriter suspected of secretly filming sex videos and sharing them in mobile messenger group chats, including Seungri of Big Bang and FT Island’s Choi Jong-hoon. 

It also filed arrest warrants for a Burning Sun employee surnamed Kim and an executive director at the club surnamed Jang. 

Kim is accused of illicit filming. Jang is accused of inflicting bodily harm for allegedly assaulting Kim Sang-kyo, a customer who opened the floodgates of allegations surrounding Burning Sun.

On Tuesday morning, Lee Moon-ho, head of nightclub Burning Sun, attended an arrest warrant hearing at the Seoul Central District Court for alleged illegal drug distribution at the club.

Seungri, who was executive director at Burning Sun, is also under investigation for procuring prostitutes for potential investors at the club. He was questioned as a criminal suspect Friday. 

Interior Minister Kim Boo-kyum and Justice Minister Park Sang-ki apologized to the public for the alleged collusion between police and Burning Sun in an emergency press briefing Tuesday. 

“I take the public outrage about a case involving the privileged with a heavy heart and I apologize as interior minister about suspected collusion (between the club) and some officers who are supposed to root out illegal acts,” Kim said. 

Read also: Seungri seeks to postpone enlistment, Jung surrenders ‘golden’ phone

Forty people were booked on drug-related charges, 14 of them suspected of taking drugs or distributing them at the Burning Sun. Three of the 40 have already been arrested. A total of four police officers have been found to be involved in the case so far. 

Kim Sang-kyo, whose claims of assault led to a broader investigation into the Burning Sun, appeared before police Tuesday for questioning on defamation charges filed against him by an official of the club and police officers. 

“It seems that the state authority is blocking the truth,” he said as he appeared before the Seoul District Police Agency. “I was a victim of assault and reported to the police for help, but I did not receive the help.”

Kim claimed he had been beaten up by security guards at the club while trying to help a woman who seemed to be being sexually harassed last November. Police officers who arrived at the scene assaulted him, he claimed. 

The management of Burning Sun said they only tried to suppress Kim, who had been sexually harassing a woman at the club, which Kim denied. 

An official of the club and police officers filed a defamation complaint against Kim. 

Police did not abide by legitimate procedures in the process of apprehending Kim, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea said Tuesday after reviewing security footage. 

“We can confirm that the police knocked down Kim, handcuffed him and then said they would catch him red-handed,” it said in a statement, noting that police acted outside the Miranda warning. 

This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post