South Korean K-pop Celebrities Likely To Skate In Gambling Scandal

Posted on: November 4, 2019, 08:08h. 

Last updated on: November 5, 2019, 10:45h.

South Korean police spent months investigating gambling allegations involving Seungri, who was part of a popular K-pop band, and Yang Hyun-suk, himself an ex-K-pop performer who stepped down as controversial CEO of YG Entertainment. But indictments are unlikely, according to multiple recent news reports.

Seungri, the ex-K-pop singer, above, and Yang Hyun-suk may avoid prosecution on gambling charges in South Korea. (Image: AsiaOne)

It appears prosecutors will not follow through with court action following the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) inquiry on the two men for what is described as alleged “habitual gambling” at Las Vegas casinos, Yonhap News Agency said.

Such foreign gaming is illegal under South Korean law. Seungri and Yang allegedly gambled separately one or two times a year since 2014.

Between the two, the total they spent at US casinos appears to be around $1 million, Yonhap said. South Korean authorities claim that on one visit to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Yang played high-stakes baccarat for up to 17 hours per day.

Also, during their 84-day investigation, authorities did not find evidence to proceed with criminal charges on related counts against the two men. It is unclear what may happen with charges on a few other possible suspects.

Gaming Laws Restrict South Korean Nationals

South Korea has 18 casinos, but it is illegal for South Korean nationals to gamble in all but one, the state-owned Kangwon Land in Gangwon Province. South Korean criminal law also extends to its citizens when they travel out of the nation, so Kangwon Land is the only place they are permitted to gamble in the world.

Kangwon Land recently reported a decrease in revenues and a drop in visitation during 2018. Revenues fell from $1.28 billion to $1.18 billion, while 2.85 million people visited the property, down from 3.12 million the previous year. The casino was recently embroiled in a nepotism scandal last January that saw former CEO Choi Hung-jib imprisoned for corruption.

In July, South Korea’s gaming regulator reported that revenue for the country’s 16 foreigner-only casinos grew to roughly $1.38 billion in 2018, compared to just over $1 billion from the previous year.

South Korean Police Official Charged

Last month, a senior police officer — who may have been associated with Seungri — was arrested on allegations of bribery, obstruction, insider trading and destruction of evidence. The alleged actions took place at Burning Sun nightclub, according to a UPI report. Seungri was identified as a one-time co-owner of the Seoul club, which was located inside of the Le Meridien hotel.

The Korea Herald reported in February that Seungri quit as chief of Yuri Holdings, the alleged holding company of Burning Sun. He also quit as a club co-director in January, the Herald said.

The club was allegedly the scene of the drugging of women patrons, possibly with the date-rape drug GHB, and patrons later sexually assaulting them, UPI adds.

The arrested officer, whose full name was not reported in media accounts, was identified as a senior superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

He allegedly failed to investigate explicit allegations involving the nightclub. The club was also associated with sex videos allegedly being filmed without the consent of women.

The club was shut down in February shortly after the allegations surfaced. Seungri quit the Big Bang K-pop band in March.

YG Entertainment managed Seungri before his retirement. It is one of South Korea’s biggest record labels and talent agencies.