×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

South Korea Needs to Clean Up Biz

The South Korean entertainment business has been shaken deeply by scandal in the past year, and the fallout is still being felt across the board.

As K-pop superstars BTS glide triumphantly across the U.S. on a sold-out tour, fellow music superstar Seungri (ne Lee Seung-hyun) of boy band Bigbang is in the middle of one of the worst scandals in the Korean entertainment industry involving drug distribution, prostitution, hidden-camera footage, police corruption, embezzlement and tax evasion in a nightclub owned by Seungri.

Most damning were messages from Seungri on a Korean IM service KakaoTalk, in which he had discussed, planned and shared illegal acts in the group chat along with his business partners and fellow K-pop talents.

The #MeToo movement has been slow to gain traction in the Korean entertainment industry, but the unlawful acts that took place in Seungri’s Burning Sun nightclub immediately faced the public condemnation. It turned out that a number of high-profile celebrities had been involved in sharing hidden-camera footage. Singer and TV personality Jung Joon-young was arrested in March on suspicion of filming and distributing footage of himself having sex with 10 women on his Kakao group chat. Other popular K-pop idol band members such as F.T. Island’s Choi Jong-hoon, CNBLUE’s Lee Jong-hyun and Highlight’s Yong Jun-hyung have admitted they had also illegally filmed or at least watched those uploaded in the chat room.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in weighed in and called for a thorough investigation.

While the investigation is in progress, the celebrities implicated or arrested have all released letters of apology and have been quickly removed from their regular TV shows, bands and agencies, and most of them have announced their retirement from showbiz.

Though the industry’s decision to expel them was quickly made, companies, brands and shows they once worked with could not avoid criticism: Korea Broadcasting System’s hit variety show “1 Night 2 Days,” on which Jung had been a regular since 2013, had decided to continue without Jung, and in March the show went into hiatus. Although KBS has not announced the permanent end of the program, a new variety show has been announced to replace it in its time slot.

“[We] deeply apologize for having failed to supervise our cast and will arrange a measure to prevent any recurrence,” said KBS in a statement.

Seungri’s former agency, YG Entertainment, is also on edge. Seungri confirmed that he had used YG’s corporate credit card to pay his Japanese investors’ hotel charges in Seoul in 2015. Police allege the singer arranged for the investors, although he has not admitted to that charge. YG is under a wide tax investigation.

As the stories and charges widened in scope, female stars were unfairly brushed with allegations, mostly stemming from out-of-control social media postings. In one set of Kakao messages, Seungri and Jung allegedly tried to recruit an “actress” for Seungri’s party but failed because she was in New York then. Wild speculation on social media and in the local media named an actress who had to had to use social media to defend herself and also to opt out of a new KBS series.

“As the focus of the rumor, I’ve become a victim,” she said on Instagram. “It is painful that victims, and not the perpetrators, get all the attention, consumed as the subject of gossip and criticized.”

The entertainment industry is taking a careful approach to the issues surrounding the scandal. South Korea’s leading studio CJ Entertainment is releasing “Miss & Mrs. Cops,” a film about a victim of night club spy cam pornography and two policewomen working on the case. Though the film was made before the Burning Sun scandal surfaced, its subject matter recalls recent events. But hidden cameras are not just a problem for stars and night clubbers.

“This film has no connection to any specific events or people,” said director Jung Da-won at a press event. “ ‘Cops’ is not directly related to the recent events, but similar crimes have always been prevalent. I think our film slightly covers the ongoing issue of digital sex crime,” added actress Ra Mi-ran (“Ode to My Father”).

More Film

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content