K-pop is being rocked by a sex scandal. It’s part of a bigger societal problem
K-pop is being rocked by a sex scandal. It’s part of a bigger societal problem.
Here’s what you need to know.
But all that perfectly curated success has a dark side.
K-pop artists have spoken out about exploitative and strict studio contracts that trap young performers and closely regulate their private behavior, dating life, and public conduct. There have also been several reports of predatory behavior and harassment by studio executives.
Recently, a major scandal involving a famous K-pop idol has exposed that dark side for all the world to see. But it comes amid a wave of other sex-related scandals in South Korea, which are sparking new conversations about how women are being exploited in the country — and better ways to address this going forward.
The scandal: South Korea’s “Great Gatsby” and Burning Sun
Lee Seung-hyun, 28, better known by his stage name, Seungri, was a member of one of the most influential K-pop boy groups, Big Bang, before he resigned from the industry on March 12. Seungri was nicknamed “Korea’s Great Gatsby” because of his lavish lifestyle, which he frequently flaunted by throwing lavish parties.
The other major name to know in this scandal is Burning Sun, a club located in the Gangnam district in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The club is owned by Yuri Holdings, a company owned by Seungri’s business partner, Yoo In-Suk. Seungri and Yoo co-own Burning Sun.
Burning Sun opened in early 2018, and since then, Seungri has served as the face of the club, using his celebrity status to attract more attention and investment.
But less than a year after Burning Sun opened, accusations began to swirl about illegal activities happening at the club, including everything from assault, prostitution, and drug distribution to tax evasion and police corruption.
On January 28, South Korea’s MBC News Desk reported on an assault case in Burning Sun. CCTV footage was distributed that appeared to show Burning Sun staff beating up a customer. The customer, who goes by the name of “Mr. Kim,” submitted a petition to the Blue House, which is similar to the White House and a part of the South Korean government, asking officials to investigate.
By February 20, the club had been shut down, and its staff — and Seungri — were under investigation for allegedly distributing drugs. Other clubs in the district were also being investigated at the time.
Then on February 26, a South Korean entertainment news site published text messages that purported to show an interaction between Seungri and business partner Yoo in 2015, where they instructed a club employee at a different club, Arena, to arrange a prostitute for a foreign investor. Seungri was later charged for this.
The text messages also revealed, however, that Seungri was involved in a group chat with other male K-pop idols, where they allegedly shared explicit videos of their sexual exploits with multiple women, without the women’s consent or knowledge.
The chat messages appear to show artists including Jung Joon-young of the band Drug Restaurant, Choi Jong-hoon of the band FT Island, and others joked about drugging and raping women.
In one of the messages, a performer called Roy Kim brags, “I gave her sleeping pills and did her.” In another conversation, a different male singer jokes, “You raped her, Lol.”
In April, a woman testified that she was one of the victims described in the messages, and said that after seeing the images, videos, voice recordings, and conversations, she believes she was sexually assaulted by five men who had participated in the chat. She said she could not remember what had happened the night of the incident but woke up in the morning fully naked next to one of the men. She has since filed a lawsuit against them alleging assault.
The leaked messages sparked national outrage, and thousands of people petitioned for the case to be thoroughly investigated by the authorities and police.
While the investigation was underway, Seungri announced on Instagram that he was canceling all his future shows and retiring from the industry, partly to protect the reputation of YG Entertainment, the company his band, Big Bang, is signed with.
Despite this, YG Entertainment’s stocks dropped about 16 percent after the release of the text messages. Though both Yuri Holdings and YG Entertainment claimed the text messages were fabricated, the reporter who broke the story responded saying she had no reason to fabricate the messages, and the other K-pop stars allegedly involved are all currently being investigated. Joon-young of Drug Restaurant has since admitted to filming women without their consent and posting the videos to the chat, and was arrested on suspicion of filming and sharing illicit hidden camera videos.
Seungri has been charged with providing prostitution services, which is illegal in South Korea, and he could face up to three years in jail. South Korean police also said they planned to request an arrest warrant soon for Seungri on charges of distributing illicit footage, tax evasion, and embezzlement.
In the aftermath, most of the K-pop idols who were named in the chat message scandal have retired from the music industry.
Then in April, a South Korean broadcast news station reported that eight women who had attended Seungri’s birthday party in the Philippines in December 2017 were actually prostitutes. The women were allegedly paid $4,800 each to attend, and police are currently investigating.
Beyond the K-pop scandal, South Korea is facing a bigger problem with exploitation
In March 2019, South Korean police and news outlets revealed a shocking spy-camera epidemic. Around 1,600 people, many of whom were women, were recorded and live-streamed in motel rooms as they changed clothes or used the restroom.
The footage was distributed on a subscription site, which allowed customers to watch footage on demand. The Cyber Investigation Department at the National Police Agency in South Korea said in a statement that cameras were hidden inside TV boxes, hair dryer holders, and wall sockets, reported CNN. Two men have been arrested and two others are still being investigated.
The culture of spy cams, or “molka” as it’s known in Korean, is a daily concern for women whenever they enter public bathrooms. Many South Korean women took to the streets last year to protest the epidemic with slogans like “My life is not your porn.”
More than 5,400 people were arrested on molka-related charges since 2017 — but less than 2 percent were jailed.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has responded to the spy cam epidemic by calling for a thorough investigation, and also asked that two previous sexual assault investigations be reopened.
Full article here: https://www.vox.com/2019/4/29/18306249/k-pop-sex-scandal-seungri-burning-sun