SEOUL (Reuters) – On a recent weekend night, the dance flooring at one of the most popular clubs in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district held only a couple of dozen people surrounded by mainly empty tables.
SUBMIT PHOTO: South Korean vocalist Jung Joon-young gets here for questioning on allegations of illicitly taping and sharing sex videos on social media, at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Company in Seoul, South Korea, March 14,2019 REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo
A few months back, the nightclub would have been loaded with numerous gyrating men and females, and complete tables, many costing 650,000 won ($570) or more for a night of drinking and dancing.
The world was introduced to Gangnam by the 2012 K-pop hit “Gangnam Style,” a parody of the South Korean highlife with a viral tune and entertaining dancing that became the very first video to reach a billion views on YouTube.
But a wave of sex crimes and other prohibited activity has actually exposed a dark underbelly in the district, driving club-goers and celebs away.
According to cops private investigators, a network of pop stars, business people and polices are alleged to have actually colluded and made it possible for tax evasion, bribery, and prostitution at some of Gangnam’s glitziest clubs.
A lot of seriously, some are being examined over the use of date rape drugs to disable women and assault them, sometimes shot by concealed electronic cameras.
” There aren’t lots of people concerning Gangnam (clubs) today,” an employee informed Reuters at a club that was reasonably peaceful, in spite of not being linked in any of the accusations. “There’s an examination on.”
The scandals have actually already caused the resignation of 4 K-pop stars, the closure of among Gangnam’s the majority of profitable club, and investigations into at least 6 law enforcement officers thought of conspiring with club operators.
President Moon Jae-in required a thorough investigation, stating the Gangnam club cases recommend possible collusion between cops, tax authorities and a new privileged class consisting of stars to take part in illegal operations.
More than 500 people have actually been examined for drug use and sexual assault and more than 200 jailed in a nationwide roundup because Feb.25
Tax authorities have actually released examinations into 21 clubs and host bars for possible evasion.
” If we don’t set this right, we can not call this a just society,” Moon stated.
SEX CRIME ISSUES
The examinations, focusing on 2 Gangnam clubs, Burning Sun and Arena, started late last year when 29- year-old film art director Kim Sang-kyo states he tried to stop an event of sexual harassment and was assaulted by Burning Sun personnel, and after that abused by police who instead jailed him.
A government commission concluded that police in Gangnam breached Kim’s rights throughout his arrest, but Kim is still being investigated for sexual harassment and defamation. He rejects any misdeed.
Calls to Burning Sun, which shut down after the scandal broke, were not addressed, while a guy who addressed the number noted for Arena hung up when asked for remark. Arena has also been closed given that early March for what it said were restorations. Gangnam police declined to comment.
Kim said when he shared his story he started to receive messages from other individuals who said they had been victimized in Gangnam clubs, and he realized the scope of the issue.
” When individuals saw me raising concerns, they said ‘why you? Why now?'” Kim said. “‘ This has actually been going on for 10 years, 15 years, and you can’t touch it. You can’t win.’ I’ve heard a great deal of individuals state this, and I believe it’s really frightening.”
The string of scandals gained broader attention when a number of K-pop stars who had ties to a few of the clubs were linked in criminal offenses unrelated to Kim’s arrest.
Vocalist Lee Seung-hyun, 28, much better understood by the stage name Seungri, is under examination for paying for woman of the streets in return for favors from foreign entrepreneurs at Arena.
He is also implicated of embezzlement at another club he was included with up until in 2015.
Lee has denied all incorrect doing, but resigned from his position as a member of the young boy band BIGBANG. Lee’s attorney informed Reuters this week his customer maintains his innocence.
At least 3 other K-pop stars resigned after they were accused by authorities of sharing illegally filmed sex tapes. It is not yet clear whether any of the shared videos and photos were taken at either bar.
One singer, Jung Joon-young admitted to having shared videos he took covertly while making love with women.
” I am really sorry. I committed a criminal activity that can not be forgiven,” Jung read from a handwritten statement on March21
WEB OF CONNECTIONS
Besides Seungri, who was an internal director at Burning Sun and formerly assisted run the club, cops are examining 2 of the club’s co-presidents and an operating director for numerous criminal offenses consisting of distributing drugs, assaulting a customer, and bribing police.
Private investigators have likewise questioned 15 individuals and apprehended 4 individuals with links to Burning Sun on drug charges. At least one club promoter was detained for distributing prohibited sex videos.
A male recognized as the de facto owner of Arena, surnamed Kang, was detained in late March, a Seoul Central District Court spokesperson said.
Kang and other Arena executives are implicated of tax evasion by preventing paying 16.2 billion won ($1431 million) in taxes in between 2014-2017 Kang declined to answer questions on March 25 as he emerged from court. He might not be reached for comment.
Authorities are likewise examining allegations that club authorities provided kickbacks to policemans.
6 officers are now under investigation for possible collusion with the clubs, consisting of a senior superintendent, lawmakers informed by Cops Commissioner General Minutes Gab-ryong stated.
The superintendent, surnamed Yoon, admitted playing golf and sharing meals with a male understood to be Seungri’s business partner, but denies all accusations of corruption.
He is implicated of leaking secret information and accepting kickbacks, including K-pop show tickets from vocalist Seungri, an authorities at the Seoul Metropolitan Cops Firm said.
In Gangnam, previous clients and workers lament the effect the scandals have actually had on the clubs and the more comprehensive home entertainment industry, a key identity and export for South Korea.
FILE PHOTO: Seungri, a member of South Korean K-pop band Big Bang, arrives to be questioned over a sex bribery case at the Seoul Metropolitan Authorities Firm in Seoul, South Korea, March 14,2019 REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Picture
Kim Se-rim, 27, said she no longer goes to clubs.
” Individuals resemble, why would you go when you know there are a lot drugs, GHB, rape going on?,” she said, referring to a recognized date-rape drug. “And they have a point.”
($ 1 = 1,1345200 won)
Extra reporting and composing by Josh Smith.; Modifying by Lincoln Feast.