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South Korean court jails K-pop superstar for three years in prostitution, embezzlement and gambling scandal

South Korean court jails K-pop superstar for three years in prostitution, embezzlement and gambling scandal
A South Korean pop star has been sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of nine charges relating to procuring prostitutes, embezzlement and overseas gambling.

On Thursday, a South Korea judge handed K-pop star Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, a three-year jail sentence and a fine worth 1.15 billion won ($990,000).

The 30-year-old, who is a former member of popular group BIGBANG, was found guilty of nine charges, including embezzling money from nightclubs, facilitating prostitution for foreign investors and overseas gambling.

South Korean citizens are forbidden from betting even when travelling abroad. It was reported that the stolen funds were largely gambled away in Las Vegas.

Lee’s trial is part of a wide-ranging investigation linking pop stars, businessmen and even law enforcement agents who allegedly colluded to enable embezzlement, tax evasion and prostitution in some of Seoul’s most exclusive and glamour venues, notably in the Gangnam district. 

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Lee, who boasts 8 million Instagram followers and whose BIGBANG group sold more than 150 million records worldwide, was called up for military service shortly after his indictment, causing his trial to be transferred to a military court.

The K-pop star denied most of the charges and could be seen shaking his head when the sentence was read. Lee attended the Yongin-based trial in military uniform.

The BIGBANG singer was once labeled as “the Great Gatsby of Korea” but retired from show business in 2019 when he was formally charged.

Lee is by no means the first pop star sentenced as part of the nightclubs scandal. K-pop stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon were sentenced to six and five years in prison, respectively, in 2019 after being found guilty of gang-raping a woman. Jung was even found to have filmed and distributed the footage. Their sentences were later reduced.

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