South Korean singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young was convicted on Friday 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.”
Jung distributed his videos in mobile chatrooms 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.”
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.”
Both men wept when the sentences were announced.
But 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.”
‘Cannot be forgiven’
Jung rose to fame in 2012 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”.
There was no immediate statement from his lawyers or his record company 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 came just days after 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.
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.
Around 5,500 people were arrested for molka offences last year, 97 percent of them men, according to police data.
Reporting by AFP
Image: Photo from AFP/ Jung Yeon-Je