Before we start, a quick note that I’m going to be doing a roundup of news from the Burning Sun scandal. That is, unless the news is something I deem substantial — the report about the group chat with talk about comfort women and rape, for example — I’m trying to avoid writing an article on every single detail that comes out because it’s overwhelming and readers had tired of minor updates as well.
At this point, I think roundup posts for certain events are more useful for people. Some of the stuff contained within this article are what I believe to be relevant updates but just updates nonetheless and not conclusive of much.
Let me know what you think.
While Seungri suspected of multiple instances of providing prostitution, the focus recently has fallen onto his birthday party in the Philippines, for which police were reported to have secured testimony that would show pros. The police recently confirmed that testimony had been secured, but that despite the sexual activity going on the women said they had not been instructed to have sex with anybody.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Provincial Special Detective Division, police secured the testimony while investigating some of the women who attended Seungri’s birthday party in the Philippines. The women, however, stated they had voluntarily entered into such acts with the men and that they were not instructed to do so by anyone else. Police suspect prostitution may have taken place in exchange for the payment of the escorts’ travel expenses, as Seungri was revealed to have paid for them.
Seungri has consistently denied involvement in prostitution and had claimed that he paid for everybody who went on the trip.
The police suspect that even if there were no direct orders from Seungri to provide sexual services, the act of inviting them to the party after paying for their travel expenses was to naturally create an atmosphere for sexual services to be provided to foreign investors.
Later, police expanded on these suspicions, saying they had secured financial records showing that the escorts received a fee greater than their travel expenses.
On April 14, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Provincial Special Detective Division secured records of financial transactions indicating that Seungri transferred a sum that exceeds regular travel expenses to the escorts.
The police suspect that this was a case of prostitution mediation as the women were not friends of Seungri. In addition, the escorts were paid a sum that is greater than the travel expenses, meaning that the additional amount may have been given in exchange for prostitution. A source from the police stated, “We are open to all possibilities including requesting a pretrial detention warrant.” A pretrial detention warrant allows a prosecutor the right to put suspects or defendants in detention.
They stated, “We are investigating two people who went to Palawan with Seungri and checking the expenses by looking into their bank accounts. We have figured out how much [Seungri paid for the women’s] travel expenses, and we must look into it further to find out the source of the money.”
Seungri’s side has responded by saying that they did pay the escorts but sexual acts were not paid for.
A source from Seungri’s side admitted that he invited female escorts to his birthday party in Palawan, but denied that money was exchanged for sexual favors. The source stated, “Transferring money to an adult entertainment establishment does not mean sexual acts were expected in return. If the money were sent with expectations of receiving sexual favors in return, we should have gotten the money back from female escorts who did not engage in sexual acts at the party.” They emphasized that the money was transferred solely to cover their travel expenses.
Not sure much of anything here is new information, as it wasn’t much of a secret that escorts attended his birthday party. However, the involvement of escorts has been confirmed by police now and Seungri’s side has denied that they were paid anything else but to attend like everybody else.
Legally speaking, what the police have right now makes it iffy as to whether this specific case of alleged providing of prostitution will lead to anything. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why anybody reasonable would think paying for escorts to attend your overseas birthday party — reportedly with a bit of a tip on top of the travel — and then having sex with people attending would make one think it was for prostitution, especially given the business culture in Korea. I just think it’s likely the police will need more than what’s made public now, and the police seem to know that as well, which is why they’re working to secure financial records to prove the paid for more than travel and they’re basically saying they’re still looking into that part.
Things continue to get worse anyway, as police have also said that they have further evidence about Seungri providing prostitution to Japanese businessmen at a Christmas party in 2015.
On April 16, it was reported that the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Provincial Special Detective Division secured testimony that sexual acts with men occurred in the process of investigating the professional female escorts who were invited to his Christmas party at the time. The police also analyzed the women’s bank accounts and confirmed that some of the costs had been paid. A source from the police stated, “While [Seungri] did not order sexual services, he called them imagining a certain scenario or more, and actual sexual activities occurred.” The source added, “The women were professional female escorts and not non-celebrity acquaintances Seungri was already familiar with, and as they are still in the related industry, this is likely to be seen as prostitution mediation.”
So yeah, the circumstantial evidence is piling up on multiple fronts, but the investigation itself is still not over.
Meanwhile, the embezzlement case of Burning Sun has now fallen on the rent the club was paying to Jun Won Corporation.
On April 11, the Intellectual Crime Team of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency searched Junwon Industries, a major shareholder of Burning Sun, and Yuri Holdings. Junwon Industries is a major shareholder of Burning Sun Entertainment, which managed Club Burning Sun, and was the actual owner of the business as well as the owner of Le Meridian Hotel where Club Burning Sun was located in. Previously, Junwon Industries appropriated 16,660,000 KRW ($14,700 USD) for the monthly rent of Burning Sun but since the end of last year, the monthly rent rose by 6 times. The police have confirmed that Burning Sun paid over 100M KRW ($88,300 USD) in monthly rent to Junwon Industries and are currently investigating on the possibility of embezzlement. The police suspect Junwon Industries and Seungri to have embezzled approximately 600M KRW ($530,000 USD) in total.
“Junwon Industries’ CEO Choi, Seungri and Yoo In Suk have additionally been booked for embezzlement. The embezzled amount may increase in the future.” ㅡ Police
So basically they’re saying that Burning Sun was overpaying in rent to their parent company and skimming off that, essesntially taking money out of the club and into their pockets.
But the company denied all charges.
On April 12, Jun Won Corporation stated through a press release, “We are here to report that suspicions of Jun Won Corporation’s embezzlement are not true.”
They explained that the rent increase was due to market prices.
Jun Won Corporation stated that because it normally takes a business at least six months to get to a stable state after its opening, the initial rent for Burning Sun was set at 16.66 million won. Three months after Burning Sun’s opening, however, the monthly rent was raised to 100 million won to meet the market price of the surrounding area. Jun Won Corporation explained that this rent was issued monthly based on rental sales, and that Burning Sun also properly handled the accounting through a bank account for the rental payments. According to the company, this information can be found in the National Tax Service’s records as well. Jun Won Corporation also added that the allegations of the company receiving Burning Sun’s profit “dividends” in the name of “rent” was not true, as if it really were the dividend, it should vary in proportion to monthly sales. However, the rent received by Jun Won Corporation was fixed at 100 million won per month. The company then explained that it did not give Burning Sun favorable treatment by initially setting the rent at 16.66 million won, and that the rent was raised after mutual agreement. It also revealed that the company was investigated by the police on April 11 and would participate in future investigations if needed, while actively addressing any suspicions that are untrue. Jun Won Corporation clarified that it had not been involved in the management of Burning Sun, and that the rumors of it being the de facto owner of the club are not true either. It had only invested in Burning Sun Entertainment after highly regarding Seungri’s business value. In regards to its lease with Burning Sun, which had been upheld from late December 2017 to February 2018, Jun Won Corporation revealed that the ongoing issued had caused investment losses. Due to this, the company terminated its contract with Burning Sun and requested procedures for corporate liquidation. Jun Won Corporation concluded it will take legal actions against reports stating that Jun Won Corporation was the actual owner of Burning Sun, and said that the Le Méridien Hotel chain had nothing to do with the Burning Sun issues.
If it seems unlikely that rent would more than quintuple due to the market after three months, you aren’t alone.
On the police corruption front, there has been information revealed in a report about the police officer mentioned in the chat who called Choi Jong Hoon to wish him a happy birthday.
On April 15, Channel A’s “News A” revealed new information about the police officer who reportedly called Choi Jong Hoon on his birthday. In the new report, Channel A stated that the police officer in question—referred to only as “A”—was a senior investigative officer in the Accident Investigation Division of the Seoul Yongsan Police Station. According to “A,” his phone call to Choi Jong Hoon was a routine call that he frequently made to individuals involved in an accident, in order to assess their satisfaction with their experience with the police during the investigation. However, an anonymous source from the accident investigation unit of another police station told Channel A, “[Those kinds of calls] are generally made to victims. We don’t typically make those kinds of calls to those responsible [for a drunk driving accident].” The source added, “Each [police] station is probably different.”
The police responded in a statement, saying they’re investigating.
A spokesperson for the police agency stated, “After questioning ‘A,’ it appears that the call [to Choi Jong Hoon] was related to an initiative planned by the Yongsan Accident Investigation Division in order to improve the public’s satisfaction [with the police]. The purpose of the call appears to have been to answer any questions that he may have had and to check whether he encountered any discomfort during the investigation [of his accident]. “Because time has passed and because ‘A’ calls many individuals involved in accidents as part of his daily work, he does not remember the precise details of his phone call with Choi [Jong Hoon]. However, he stated that if he did call [Choi Jong Hoon] on his birthday, he most likely wished him a happy birthday after seeing his birthday in his resident registration number.” The spokesperson went on to reveal, “We have obtained the cell phones of the head of the [Yongsan] police station and the head of the [Accident Investigation Division], and we are currently in the process of using digital forensics and analyzing their accounts. We are also currently in the process of analyzing the computerized system related to their work. Once we have completed [our investigations], we will forward the case [to the prosecution].”
Furthermore, the police updated on the investigation into Senior Superintendent Yoon and his relationship with Seungri and Yoo In Suk.
Although Yoon previously claimed that he had only golfed with Yoo In Suk twice, the police have ascertained that they met four times to go golfing together. A spokesperson for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency stated, “We are conducting extensive investigations and obtaining a large breadth of information related to Senior Superintendent Yoon. In regards to the golf meetings, [Yoon] testified that there had only been two instances, but we found [evidence of] two additional meetings through credit card transactions and investigations of wireless transmissions.” According to the police, Yoo In Suk and Senior Superintendent Yoon golfed together four times and dined together six times. SBS’s “8 O’Clock News” reported that Seungri was also present at four out of those six meals. The police investigation also revealed that Yoo In Suk paid for all four golf sessions. As for the six meals, the police have determined that both Yoo In Suk and Senior Superintendent Yoon each paid or two of them. The police are currently investigating Senior Superintendent Yoon’s claim that he paid in cash the other two times. It was also revealed that Yoo In Suk used his company card for the golf sessions and meals with Senior Superintendent Yoon. The spokesperson for the police stated, “The amount that CEO Yoo spent is greater than the amount spent by Senior Superintendent Yoon. We will calculate the total amount that was spent and determine whether there was a violation of the Kim Young Ran Law [the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act].”
At this point it certainly appears to be a matter of the extent of the corruption more than anything.