Two prominent K-pop stars were convicted of rape and sentenced to prison time for the crimes, which one of them recorded and shared online, multiple outlets report.
On Friday, singers Jung Joon-young, 30, and Choi Jong-hoon, 29, were found guilty of raping drunk women who were unable to consent, with the former making videos of the sex acts that were shared on the internet. A Seoul, South Korea, district court sentenced Jung to six years in prison and Choi to five years.
“The accused perpetrated sexual crimes against multiple women, degrading women and treating them as mere tools of sexual pleasure,” the judge said in his verdict, according to The New York Times. “It’s hard to fathom the pain the victims must have suffered.”
The pair, according to the Times, have one week to appeal the charges, which pertain to assaults that happened in 2016. Courts also ruled that both men must complete 80 hours of sexual violence treatment programs, CNN reports.
Jung, who quit the music industry back in March when news of the accusations broke, said in his final testimony that he is remorseful for his actions.
“I deeply regret my foolishness and I feel great remorse,” he said, according to BBC News. “From now on, I shall only … live in remorse.”
Arrested in March, Jung was one of five Korean pop music performers under investigation for a larger video sex scandal, the so-called Burning Sun Scandal, named after a nightclub in which the sex acts took place. The investigation involved an online group chat where the artists allegedly shared explicit video of at least 10 women engaging in sex acts who allegedly either were unaware or did not consent to being filmed, the South China Morning Post reported.
After being questioned by police, Jung made a court appearance in March, during which he issued a public apology for the accusations and was arrested by South Korean Police shortly after.
“I am truly sorry. I admit to all charges against me. I will not challenge the charges brought by the investigative agency, and I will humbly accept the court’s decision,” he said at the time, per CNN. “I bow my head in apology to the women who were victimized by my actions.”
Jung first broke onto the scene in 2012 on South Korean channel Mnet’s talent show series, Superstar K4. Though the performer finished in third place, he went on host several television and radio shows before transitioning into a solo music career.
With his debut album in 2013, Jung earned the award for Best New Male Solo Artist of the Year at South Korea’s annual Gaon Chart K-pop Awards. His last album The First Person was released in 2017.
K-pop — which has produced a plethora of male idols and boy bands, including BTS (who was not involved with the sex scandal) — has become a global phenomenon in recent years. In 2017, the industry was worth $4.7 billion, according to SCMP. BTS, alone, was worth more than $3.6 billion to South Korea’s economy each year, SCMP reported in December.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.