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K-pop stars jailed for gang-rape in South Korea

Singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young also convicted of sharing footage without consent

WT24 Desk

A South Korean court has sentenced two K-pop stars to six and five years in prison for gang-rape and additionally convicted one of them for distributing videos of the assaults and other sexual encounters, Agencies report.

Jung Joon-young, a singer-songwriter, and Choi Jong-hoon, a former member of the boy band FT Island, were found guilty of gang-raping two different women in two incidents in 2016.

Separately, 30-year-old Jung was 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 led to women demonstrating in Seoul chanting: “My life is not your porn.”

Jung distributed his videos in mobile chatrooms with recipients including a 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. Seoul central district court rejected the defendants’ claim that the sex was consensual.

“Jung and Choi took part in gang-rape of victims who were intoxicated and unable to resist,” the verdict said, according to Yonhap news agency. “It is hard to fathom the extent of suffering the victims must have gone through.”

The court said the two singers had seen the victims as “sexual objects” to be exploited, adding: “They should assume social responsibility in proportion to their fame and wealth.” Both men wept when the sentences were announced.

While 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. 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 an audition show, Super Star K, and he had a number of solo hits before the video scandal broke in March, when he announced his retirement.

At that time the rape accusations had yet to emerge, and he said he had “committed crimes that cannot be forgiven”.

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.

Last weekend Goo Hara, a former member of the girl group Kara, died in an apparent suicide a year after she was blackmailed over revenge porn.

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

In conservative South Korea, women who appear in such videos often feel deep shame despite being the victims, and face the threat of ostracism and social isolation. Around 5,500 people were arrested for molka offences last year, 97% of them men, according to police data.

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