In the midst of widespread speculation about possible police misconduct in connection with the Burning Sun nightclub, National Police Agency Commissioner General Min Gap-ryong on Thursday reaffirmed that he had every intention of leading thorough and complete investigation into the case.
“A new KakaoTalk transcript has surfaced, and the investigation will leave no stone unturned,” Min said in briefing the Public Administration and Security Committee at the National Assembly.
National Police Agency Commissioner General Min Gap-ryong speaks at a briefing the Public Administration and Security Committee at the National Assembly on Thursday. (Yonhap)
“A total of 126 agents will be assigned to investigate the nightclub Burning Sun, the assault at Club Arena, drug use, ties with the police, and allegations of brokering prostitution, filming and distributing illegal videos, among other things,” he added.
A day after Min’s press conference on Wednesday, new allegations point to Yoo In-suk of Yuri Holdings as the contact point between troubled celebrities and another person thought to have been the National Police Agency’s commissioner general at the time.
Before K-pop singer-businessman Seungri resigned from key posts related to Burning Sun, Seungri and Yoo were listed as co-heads of Yuri Holdings, which holds a 20 percent stake in the nightclub Burning Sun as its parent company.
Seungri, Yoo and singer Jung Joon-young were interrogated by the police on Thursday as suspects in the scandal, each on different potential charges.
In a radio interview Thursday morning, a lawyer surnamed Bhang said, “Given the messages exchanged are true, they said something on the lines of ‘I saw Yoo texting the National Police Agency commissioner general, it’s incredible.’”
Bhang sent the mobile messenger transcripts at the heart of the scandal to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission on behalf of the informant.
The transcripts, which have sent to Supreme Prosecutors’ Office for investigation, are expected to be transferred to Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s office, said Justice Minister Park Sang-ki.
Revelations of a mobile messenger chat room made of eight people, including Seungri, Jung and FT Island’s Choi Jong-hoon, that include messages exchanged in July 2016 that implicate a cozy relationship with the national police agency chief have put the spotlight on the police.
Then-police agency chief Kang Shin-myung vehemently denied any such ties.
“I have never met Seungri and do not know him. I have nothing to do with this case and I do not know about it,” he said in a statement.
With the case falling into deeper quagmire, it has been brought to light that the police had attempted to get rid of evidence of illicit photos of women and sex videos on singer Jung Joon-young’s cell phone in 2016, when Jung was sued for secretly taking pictures of his ex-girlfriend’s body parts.
The police in charge of the case in August 2016 had asked the repair center recovering Jung’s cellphone to give a written statement that it was impossible to recover the data on the mobile phone, the whistleblower said on local news outlet SBS.
Jung had refused to turn in the mobile phone to the police, claiming that was broken. The police then asked Jung to get the data recovered, according to reports.
Possibly adding tax evasion to the list of charges, the chat room transcript also indicates tax evasion by a Gangnam-based pub Seungri, Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon jointly opened in May 2016, the whistleblower said.
Yuri Holdings owned a 50 percent stake in the pub named “Millddang Pocha,” while Jung Joon-young, Seungri and three other people held 10 percent each.
The root of the scandal dates back to November last year, when Burning Sung club-goer Kim Sang-kyo, 28, alleged collusion between police and Burning Sun, claiming he was assaulted by police officers.
According to Kim, he had called the police for help after an attack by security guards while trying to help a female customer who was forcefully being taken away by a club employee.
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)