Entertainment industry, police engulfed by scandals
Singers Jung Joon-young and Seungri of the K-pop band BIGBANG are at the center of attention in the media this week over a wide range of scandals involving sex videos, prostitution and drugs.
The police on Thursday began an investigation into Jung, who has faced allegations that he illegally filmed and distributed sex videos of himself and various women. Jung arrived at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Thursday morning, to be questioned. On the same day, the police also began questioning Seungri, who has transformed himself into an entrepreneur after reaching global stardom, for allegations that he arranged illegal sex services for foreign investors.
Prior to this, Seungri caused a stir after Burning Sun, a nightclub affiliated with the singer in Gangnam, Seoul, was subject to a police probe into allegations of illegal drug use and sexual violence.
Seungri announced his retirement from the entertainment business but has denied the allegations against him. Jung admitted in a statement Wednesday that he had filmed women without their consent and had distributed the videos in a private group chat. Both singers have caused huge disappointment to many K-pop fans within and outside Korea.
The possible collusion between the entertainers and police is gaining keen public attention after allegations that a high-level police authority was supporting their alleged crimes. According to records of a group chat on KakaoTalk in 2016, the police confirmed that Jung wrote that the head of the national police was behind him. The group chat was shared by Jung and some of his friends and acquaintances, including Seungri and employees of Burning Sun.
Justice Minister Park Sang-ki held a press conference Wednesday and stressed grave punishment for the illegal sex videos, which have emerged as one of the most serious crimes facing Korean society.
Min Gap-ryong, commissioner general of the National Police Agency, appeared at a meeting of the National Assembly's Public Administration and Security Committee, Thursday. He said the police will conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations of collusion with the police. If police authorities were aiding the crimes, they should be given stern punishment. It is time to check all entertainment establishments like nightclubs to root out hidden crimes.
The scandals involving Seungri and Jung have underlined structural problems in Korea's entertainment industry, which has been lenient on entertainers who have been linked to various crimes like drug use and sexual abuse in the past. Jung, for example, was sued for illegally filming his girlfriend three years ago but has continued to appear on public television as if nothing happened. Given the huge impact entertainers have, particularly on youth, it is important for them to behave properly and be duly punished when they commit crimes. People with a history of crimes against women and others should never be allowed to return to the entertainment industry. It is time for the entertainment industry to reflect on its insensitivity to crime.