K-pop stars involved in recent hidden camera controversy (clockwise from top left) Seungri, Jung Joon Young, Yong Junhyung, Choi Jong Hoon / Photos = 10 Asia DB

The industry sex scandal that started off with allegations against K-pop stars Seungri and Jung Joon Young has led to Highlight’s Yong Junhyung and F.T. Island’s Choi Jong Hoon withdrawing from their respective groups.

The official announcements of Yong Junhyung and Choi Jung Hoon leaving their groups were made on March 14 – the same day that Seungri and Jung Joon Young were summoned by the police for questioning. Seungri faced questioning over allegations that he had procured escort services for potential investors, while Jung Joon Young was interrogated after being accused of illegally filming women while engaging in sexual acts with them and sharing the footage with others via mobile chatrooms.

On the morning of the 14th, Highlight’s label, Around Us Entertainment, released an official statement confirming that Yong Junhyung had viewed the illegal footage shared by Jung Joon Young and announced that Yong Junhyung would be leaving the group. The statement read: “Yong Junhyung found out in 2015 that Jung Joon Young had filmed an illegal video. He later viewed footage that was shared with him and engaged in an inappropriate conversation regarding the video… Yong Junhyung will be withdrawing from the group today in order to avoid tarnishing the group’s image and inflicting secondary damage.”

Yong Junhyung also personally acknowledged his viewership of hidden camera footage on his official Instagram account. His post read: “Although I did not receive a video at that time, I have received a different video before. I also engaged in an inappropriate conversation regarding that video… I didn’t think of it as a crime or illegal behavior and was indifferent to it. I am also at fault for not firmly restraining [Jung Joon Young].”

Yong Junhyung underwent a witness interview on March 13 as part of a probe into the sex scandal allegations. Following the interview, he stated that he spoke honestly about everything he knew and cooperated with the investigation. He also called himself an idle bystander and repeatedly apologized while announcing that he would be leaving Highlight. Fans of the group have been expressing their anger and disappointment over Yong Junhyung’s lies and actions and flooding his Instagram comment section with criticism.

On the afternoon of the same day, F.T. Island’s label, FNC Entertainment, announced Choi Jong Hoon’s departure from the group. His withdrawal from the group came after reports were published alleging that he had asked the police in 2016 to prevent media coverage of his drunk driving incident. Choi Jong Hoon was summoned for questioning regarding the cover-up allegations, as well as allegations that he had also spread illegally taken photos and videos. FNC Entertainment stated, “Although he says he has no memory of the incidents, there are additional illegal acts that he is under suspicion of. He will therefore be diligently undergoing police investigations this week… Choi Jong Hoon has made the decision to leave his group and retire from the entertainment industry.”

Both Yong Junhyung and Choi Jong Hoon initially denied reports of their connection with the burgeoning hidden camera controversy and promised to take “strong action” against those who were spreading rumors of their involvement. After the truth regarding their involvement with the controversy came to light, the two stars were forced to reverse their stance, which provoked public outrage.

Prior to the sex video scandal, Seungri was already embroiled in a controversy surrounding the nightclub Burning Sun – a club he once served as the public relations director for – where illegal activities allegedly took place. The allegations made against Burning Sun include sexual assault, drug distribution, collusion with the police, and the procurement of escort services for VIPs. As the controversy started to grow more serious, Seungri took to social media to announce his retirement from the entertainment industry, and YG Entertainment announced through a press release they they had terminated their exclusive contract with Seungri.

In addition, a group chat conversation between Seungri, the former CEO of Yuri Holdings, and Choi Jong Hoon revealed that one of the chatroom’s members may have used their ties with the police to prevent Choi Jong Hoon’s drunk driving incident to be reported by the press. As doubts were raised that a high-ranking police officer may have been involved, the police announced their intention to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission obtained the Kakao Talk conversations containing supposed evidence that Seungri had supplied prostitutes for foreign investors, and on March 10, Seungri was booked on charges of prostitution mediation. Jung Joon Young’s criminal acts came to light on the following day when group chats between Jung Joon Young, Seungri, and a number of their acquaintances were released showing that illegal hidden camera footage had been shared by Jung Joon Young.

Translated by Jennifer Earwood