South Korean president Moon Jae-in orders probe into sex scandals

SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered thorough investigations into prominent scandals involving celebrities and a former Ministry of Justice official.

According to presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom, Mr Moon on Monday gave the orders in connection with cases involving late actress Jang Ja-yeon, former vice-justice minister Kim Hak-eui and the ongoing investigation surrounding the Burning Sun nightclub.

"The common factor is that (the cases concern) developments that took place among the privileged and there is circumstantial evidence suggesting that the prosecutors and police purposely conducted incomplete investigations and actively prevented the truth from being revealed," Mr Moon was quoted as saying.

The Jang case involved an actress who committed suicide in March 2009. At the time, it was revealed that Jang left several pages of handwritten notes detailing sexual and physical abuse by powerful figures. The notes also included a list of people she said she was coerced to have sex with.

Mr Kim Hak-eui is a former vice-justice minister, who was accused in 2013 of accepting bribes in the form of sexual services, allegedly against the will of the woman involved, in a case involving a contractor named Yoon Jung-cheon.

Despite video clips that appeared to show a man looking like Mr Kim engaging in sex acts, the prosecution threw out the case, citing lack of evidence. When a woman claiming to be the woman in the video came forward in 2014, the prosecution again threw out the case, citing a lack of evidence and calling the woman's testimony unreliable.

Both cases are being reviewed by a fact-finding commission within the Supreme Prosecutors' Office.

The commission's mandate is set to expire at the end of the month, but there have been growing calls for an extension.

The ongoing Burning Sun case, which began as an assault case in which the alleged victim accused the police of collusion with club management, continues to expand.

The investigation has placed Seungri, a member of the boyband BigBang, under suspicion of a number of illegal activities, including arranging sexual services for potential investigators.

In addition, singer Jung Joon-young has been accused of illegally filming himself having sex with women and sharing the videos with other entertainers.

THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline 'President Moon orders probe into sex scandals'. Print Edition | Subscribe