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South Korean singer Jung Joon-young, pictured here in March 2019, has been sentenced to six years in jail for gang raping a woman and distributing a video of the act. Photo: Reuters

K-pop sex scandal: Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon jailed for gang rape

  • Jung was sentenced to six years in prison, Choi for five. Many online commenters considered the penalties too lenient
  • Jung also distributed videos of the assaults online in the highest-profile example of South Korea’s ‘spycam porn’ epidemic
South Korea
South Korean singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young was on Friday convicted of gang rape and distributing videos of the assaults and other sexual encounters, and was jailed for six years in a scandal that has rocked K-pop.
Jung and Choi Jong-hoon, a former member of boy band FT Island, were found guilty of gang-raping two different victims on two occasions in 2016. Separately, 30-year-old Jung was also convicted of filming himself having sex with other women without their knowledge and sharing the footage without their consent.
It is the highest-profile example of an epidemic of spycam crimes in South Korea, which have prompted widespread anger and seen women demonstrating in Seoul, chanting: “My life is not your porn.”

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Jung distributed his videos in mobile chat rooms with recipients including fellow K-pop star Seungri of BIGBANG, who has been accused of illegal gambling in connection with a sex and drugs scandal.

Jung was jailed for six years and Choi, 29, for five, the Seoul Central District Court said.

“Jung and Choi took part in gang rape of victims who were intoxicated and unable to resist,” Yonhap news agency cited the verdict as saying, rejecting the defendants’ claim the sex was consensual. “It is hard to fathom the extent of suffering the victims must have gone through.”

Female protesters rally against “spycam porn” in Seoul. Photo: AFP

The two singers had been hugely popular but had perceived the victims only as “sexual objects” to be exploited, it went on, adding: “They should assume social responsibility in proportion to their fame and wealth.”

Although the minimum sentence for rape in South Korea is three years most online commentators said the penalties were too lenient.

“The victims have to live in agony for the next 60 years, not just six,” one poster wrote on the country’s largest portal site Naver.

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Another added: “I hear they burst into tears at sentencing. The victims will live in tears for the rest of their lives.”

Jung rose to fame in 2014 when he came third in the audition show Super Star K and had a number of solo hits before the video scandal broke in March, when he announced his retirement. At the time the rape accusations had yet to emerge, but he said he had “committed crimes that cannot be forgiven”.

“I apologise to the women victims who are suffering because of me,” and his fans, he said, adding he would “spend the rest of my life reflecting on my wrongdoings”.

South Korean K-pop singer Seungri, who is a former member of group Big Bang, arrives at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in August. Photo: EPA

There was no immediate statement from his lawyers or his record company on Friday.

Known as molka, South Korean spycam videos are largely made by men secretly filming women in schools, toilets and elsewhere, although the term can also be applied to clandestinely shot footage of consensual sex.

Friday’s verdict followed the death of Goo Hara, a former member of girl group Kara, in an apparent suicide after she was blackmailed over “revenge porn” – private sex videos made with or without consent but shared without permission by disgruntled former partners or malicious acquaintances.

Fans of Goo Hara mourn her death as police confirm ‘pessimistic’ note found

Goo’s ex-boyfriend last year threatened to “end her entertainment career” by leaking the footage after they split up last year, and a CCTV clip showed her kneeling before him apparently begging him not to. He was later convicted of blackmail.

In the conservative South, women who appear in such videos often feel deep shame despite being the victims and face the threat of ostracism and social isolation.

About 5,500 people were arrested for molka offences last year, 97 per cent of them men, according to police data.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: K-pop star sentenced to six years in jail for rape