Two K-Pop stars, Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon, have been sentenced to prison on charges of sexual assault. According to the Seoul Central District Court, both Jung and Choi were convicted of conspiring in the sexual assaults of women who were incapable of resisting. Jung was also found guilty on charges of filming and distributing sexually explicit material of these women against their will on an online group chat. Jung was sentenced to six years in prison and Choi to five years.
In his verdict, Judge Kang Seong-soo said, “The accused perpetrated sexual crimes against multiple women, degrading women and treating them as mere tools of sexual pleasure. It’s hard to fathom the pain the victims must have suffered.” Judge Kang noted that the victims were “drunk and unable to resist.” Both Jung and Choi will be required to complete a sexual-violence treatment program of 80 hours total.
The charges against Jung and Choi were first brought to light in March. The investigation initially centered around a different K-Pop idol, Seungri, the youngest member of boy band Big Bang. Seungri has not yet been sentenced for the charge against him, of calling prostitutes for a foreign businessman. Seungri, Jung, and Choi were connected to the crimes after the discovery of the group chat in which the videos were distributed.
The investigation has been dubbed “The Burning Sun scandal,” for the club Burning Sun in Seoul, where the crimes took place. The activities that police claim took place in Burning Sun include prostitution, sexual assault, bribery, and drug trafficking. Both Seungri and Jung Joon-young retired from music as a result of the investigation. Under whistle-blower laws, police reportedly cannot reveal who first came forward with the allegations.
Update: Seungri was indicted on the prostitution charge from the Burning Sun scandal, along with charges of habitual gambling and illegal foreign-currency trade, on January 31, according to CNN.
Update, August 12, 2021: Seungri has been sentenced to three years in prison in South Korea on charges related to arranging prostitution services, embezzlement, and overseas gambling. According to an Associated Press report, the former Big Bang member was also ordered to pay 1.15 billion won, or nearly $1 million. Korean news reported that Seungri shook his head as the verdict was delivered.
Correction: This story was updated to clarify the charges against Seungri, who was not charged for assault.