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Multiple chaebol family members arrested on drug charges

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Dec. 22, 2022 - 15:13

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The grandson of the founder of Kiswire Limited, a midsized steel enterprise, was arrested on charges of use and possession of marijuana on Wednesday, amid continued revelations concerning the drug use of chaebol and wealthy families. Prosecutors are accelerating their probe, suspecting more drug offenses and related crimes.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office received an arrest warrant for a man surnamed Hong on charges of violating the drug law, Wednesday. Hong is the grandson of the late Chairman Hong Jong-yeol, founder of Kiswire Limited. Prosecutors arrested Hong at his home in Seocho-dong, Seoul, at around 11 p.m. Saturday night and raided his home.

Earlier this month, the prosecution handed over nine drug users, including the grandson of Namyang Dairy's founder, overseas students and celebrities, and detected the alleged drug use of Hong during a follow-up investigation.

During the prosecution's interrogation, Hong, who has no other criminal history, reportedly testified that he became frightened and threw away all of his marijuana.

Prior to his arrest, prosecutors had arrested another man surnamed Hong, 40, who is the grandson of Namyang Dairy's founder, on Nov. 15. He is also the cousin of Hwang Ha-na, the granddaughter of the Namyang Dairy founder who was released from prison in October after serving a year and eight months on repeated drug-related charges.

After the 40-year-old Hong’s arrest, three people who bought liquid marijuana from him turned themselves in, hoping for leniency, on Nov. 30. Among the three who turned themselves in was the son of a former commissioner of the Korea National Police Agency.

Separately on Nov. 30, 39-year-old Cho, in the third generation of the Hyosung family, and 38-year-old Lim, a son-in-law of the former chairman of JB Financial Group, were indicted on charges of the purchase and use of marijuana.

Along with deviation among the upper class, celebrities' drug crimes have also come to the fore regularly. Prosecutors also arrested 40-year-old Ahn, a singer in a trio group, on Nov. 8, and music producer Kim Min-soo, who works under the name Don Spike, on Oct. 21, both on charges of violating drug laws.

Choi Seok-bae, a 30-year-old rapper known as Nafla, was sentenced to two years of probation on Nov. 10 on charges of marijuana use. Han Seo-hee, a 27-year-old former entertainment trainee, was sentenced to six months in prison on Sept. 23.