Police question two K-pop stars in sex scandals

March 14, 2019

Police on Thursday questioned two renowned male singers in a probe of sex scandals that have shook the nation and tarnished the image of the K-pop industry.

Seungri, a member of boy band BIGBANG, and Jung Joon-young, a singer-songwriter, showed up separately before the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

Seungri, 29, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, was summoned for a second time over allegations that he arranged prostitutes for business investors.

Jung, 30, has already admitted that he filmed videos of himself having sex with women without their consent and shared the footage with Seungri and other friends in a mobile chat room.

“I am very sorry to the public for causing concern,” Jung said before a swarm of reporters and photographers. Clad in a black suit with his hair tied back, the highly popular celebrity arrived at the police agency at around 10 a.m.

Jung, best known for his part on the KBS variety program “2 Days & 1 Night,” hastily returned home Tuesday from shooting the TV show in the United States, soon after a TV news report broke the scandal.

Later in the day, Seungri appeared at the same place at around 2 p.m. and apologized to the public and all those who were hurt by his sordid act.

“I will earnestly face the investigation and answer truthfully, rather than saying anything at this stage,” Seungri told reporters.

He is accused of arranging sexual services for potential investors at a nightclub in Seoul to lobby them to invest in his businesses. He was first questioned on Feb. 27 as a witness and was then booked as a suspect.

The suspicion came to light last month during a police probe into another nightclub, called Burning Sun, over allegations of violence, drug use, rape and corrupt ties with district police. Seungri was its public relations director.

Seungri allegedly exchanged text messages with the co-founder of his company and one of its employees in the KakaoTalk chat room that hinted that they attempted to provide sex services for business favors.

Police also questioned the co-founder, identified by his last name Yoo, on Thursday.

BIGBANG member Seungri enters the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on March 14, 2019, to face questioning over sex-for-favors allegations. (Yonhap)
Singer Jung Joon-young shows up at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in central Seoul on March 14, 2019, to undergo questioning over sex video allegations. (Yonhap)

BIGBANG member Seungri enters the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on March 14, 2019, to face questioning over sex-for-favors allegations. (Yonhap)

Police signaled a high chance of seeking an arrest warrant for Jung after they finished questioning him, given the seriousness of his crimes and their social implications.

They also obtained Jung’s urine and hair samples with his consent in order to have them tested for narcotics, they said.

Police have carried out a raid at a Gangnam-based private forensic company that handles digital data recovery. Police believe that this company got a hold of the sex tapes when Jung left his phone with them to retrieve some data.

Police have yet to confirm who first leaked the footage to whom, citing that the probe is still ongoing. The chats were revealed by Bang Jeong-hyun, a lawyer who says he was tipped off by an anonymous source via email.

The scandal has prodded law enforcement to ramp up the probe to get to the bottom of the case, as fresh allegations are mounting that could implicate the police in collusive ties with the nightclub management.

On Wednesday, a news report revealed the content of conservations in their mobile chat room that indicated a senior police official protects a nightclub.

National Police Agency Commissioner-General Min Gab-ryong apologized over such suspicions and vowed every effort to get to the bottom of the case.

“I will stake our fate and honor as police and make sure every single allegation is thoroughly investigated,” he told a parliamentary briefing.

Justice Minister Park Sang-ki indicated that the investigation will soon be transferred to the prosecution, given the seriousness of the case.

Jung and Seungri have expressed their intent to leave show business in a gesture of taking responsibility for their actions.

Jung has admitted to his wrongdoing and promised to put down everything and cooperate with the investigation in the fullest manner possible.

Seungri said he was retiring so as not to tarnish BIGBANG’s name any further.

Their agencies announced Wednesday that they were terminating their contracts with the singers.

The latest scandal has put the local entertainment industry under fire, drawing criticism from a public dismayed at the news and creating a swirl of other rumors and speculation about who the women in Jung’s videos might be.

Top agencies, including SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, have warned of stern legal action against people spreading groundless rumors about their actresses and female singers.