“I am sorry. I made a big and inexcusable mistake, and I admit my guilt,” Jung said in a public apology after his hearing. “I will live my days repenting for the sins,” Jung continued.Other prominent K-pop stars in the group chat include Lee Jong-hyun from boy band CNBlue and Choi Jong-hoon from the group FT Island, according to Yonhap. The men have at turns apologized on social media and in public, announced departures from their management companies, and promised cooperation with investigations, Yonhap reported.  Seungri apologized for the group chat scandal and announced his departure from K-pop in early March. The youngest Big Bang member debuted when he was 15 and helped the pop group sell more than 140 million records for its management company, YG Entertainment, and generate nearly 6 billion total views on YouTube.  “I am very grateful to all the fans in Korea and abroad for their love for the past 10 years, and I think this is where I stop even if it’s for the sake of YG Entertainment and Big Bang,” read Seungri’s Instagram apology in Korean. “Jang’s List” It’s not the first time that prostitution scandals have rocked Korea’s entertainment industry.
The outcry over the latest scandal prompted the South Korean president to also reopen a 10-year-old suicide case by Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon, who left detailed notes about the sexual abuse she endured in the entertainment industry before she hanged herself in 2009, local news accounts reported. The actress accused her management of forcing her to give sexual favors to 31 prominent business moguls, government officials and journalists, according to the Korea Times. The names were never released, leaving many South Korean citizens suspecting a cover-up and clamoring for the release of “Jang’s List,” the Korea Times reported. A petition calling for a new investigation of the actress’s case has gathered more than 600,000 signatures, the news outlet said. K-pop experts said the Jang story is indicative of the control that Korean entertainment companies cast over the lives of employees, even those who’ve found success, micromanaging their weight and plastic surgery for their faces and even controlling whether they can date, lest their fans get upset.

For years, K-pop entertainers were forced to sign what Koreans call “slave contracts” that determined the length of their tenure with a company often without pay, according to Yonhap. The practice has diminished since South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission forbade the practice in eight of the country’s leading entertainment companies back in 2017, Variety reported. This included the “Big Three” K-pop entertainment companies: YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment. Some K-pop stars, who may have forgone a high school or college education, have resorted to sex work after aging out of the industry, according to industry veterans, including Youtube user Grazy Grace, who has taken to the platform to discuss her experience and knowledge of the K-pop industry. #MeToo moment of reckoning The nightclub scandal and emergence of the chat room messages seems to have been a breaking point for many Korean women who have also been dealing with a nationwide spycam epidemic that revealed thousands of 1-millimeter minicams popping up in hotels and offices and restrooms across the country. An estimated 20,000 Korean women last summer marched in rallies to protest the social problem, crying, “My life is not your porn.”There were more than 6,000 cases of secret videotaping reported in the country in 2017, the BBC reported. Of more than 5,400 people arrested, fewer than 2 percent were sent to jail. Critics say police bribery has helped perpetrators avoid prosecution.In Seungri’s and Jung’s chat room, the young women in their 20s were not aware that they were being filmed and pleaded with the men to delete the videos, according to SBS News reporter Kang Kyung-yoon, who reported on the chat room. “Some of them begged, ‘Please save me. How do I live after this?'” Kang said of the women in an interview with HuffPost Korea.For the entertainment companies, the scandal may be a moment of reckoning. All have denied wrongdoing and have distanced themselves from stars who have been implicated. Shares in YG Entertainment, which manages Seungri’s Big Bang, have fallen 27 percent since news of inquiries into Burning Sun emerged in January. Yang Min-suk, the CEO of YG Entertainment, has kept his job after surviving a shareholder vote last week to remove him, reported Yonhap.

“I take those cases very seriously. (I) will faithfully cooperate with the relevant authorities in charge of investigations,” Yang said before the shareholder’s meeting. His brother Yang Hyun-suk, the founder of YG Entertainment, remains as chairman.The future remains unclear for the embattled company, however. South Korea’s tax agency launched a probe into YG Entertainment for alleged tax evasion, reported Yonhap, citing evidence that founder Yang Hyun-suk owned a different nightclub in Seoul that he registered as a restaurant to avoid higher business taxes.

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