Fans Concerned About Return of Burning Sun Scandal Main Culprits

Fans Concerned About Return of Burning Sun Scandal Main Culprits

(From left) Jung Joon-young and Seungri. Photos: Photos provided by Korea Herald

Recent sightings of former K-pop singers who were major figures in The scorching sun scandal — Jung Joon-young, Seungri and Choi Jong-hoon — raise issues regarding K-pop image and where the line is between the public and private lives of celebrities.

The scandal began in 2016, when Jung illegally filmed and distributed sex videos. Investigations into the 2019 assault at Seungri’s Burning Sun nightclub uncovered a group chat where illegal videos were shared and other sex crimes were discussed between the three celebrities. Jung was sentenced to five years in prison for gang rape and distributing illegal footage. Seungri was sentenced to one year and six months on nine charges, including facilitating prostitution and violating the Sexual Offenses Act. Choi was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for gang rape and illegal filming with Jung.

On Sunday, a French internet user who chose not to reveal her identity shared a photo of Jung partying at a nightclub in Lyon, France, on her X account. The singer, who was released from prison in March, was spotted with long hair and a beard, smiling.

According to the netizen, she met Jung at a nightclub, where he introduced himself as “Jun.” He was later seen kissing another woman. She also mentioned that another Korean man approached her and said, “He was a famous singer in Korea.” The next day, Jung also told her in a private Instagram message that he would be opening a new Korean restaurant in Lyon.

A French netizen posted on her X account about meeting Jung Joon-young at a nightclub in Lyon, France. Photo: French netizen’s X account via Korea Herald

Jung had a similar plan in 2018 when he announced he would open a Korean restaurant in Paris, which his agency confirmed at the time. However, the project was abandoned when he was indicted in the Burning Sun case.

“He hasn’t changed at all. Five years in prison can’t change a person and I hate that he still has no intention of leaving the music industry,” a French netizen said in a Korean media report on Wednesday, July 10.

Jung’s private Instagram account has reportedly been deleted.

A post by a French netizen on X about her encounter with Jung Joon-young at a nightclub in Lyon, France. Photo: French netizen’s account on X via Korea Herald

Seungri, a former member of K-pop boy band Big Bang and another key figure in the scandal, has also been spotted at various events since his release from prison in February last year.

In December 2023, he was seen celebrating his birthday in Bangkok, Thailand. In January, he attended an event in Cambodia, where he caused outrage by saying, “One day I’ll bring G-Dragon here.” In May, he performed at a wealthy person’s birthday party in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Hong Kong media reported in May that Seungri had settled in Hong Kong, bought a luxury home, and even planned to open a nightclub. However, the Hong Kong government denied the reports, stating, “We have not received any visa application from the former Korean pop star (Seungri).”

His continued appearances with Big Bang’s music and mentions of band members such as G-Dragon have angered fans of the boy band, who feel Seungri is tarnishing the group’s reputation.

Seungri performs Big Bang songs at a wealthy person’s birthday party in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May. Photo: Malaysian netizen’s Instagram account via Korea Herald

Attention has also been drawn to Choi, a former member of another K-pop group, FT Island.

In June 2020, Choi admitted to the crime, announced his departure from FT Island, and declared his retirement from the entertainment industry.

However, Choi attempted a comeback in January under the pseudonym “Huniya” on Japan’s largest fan social media platform Fanicon, in an attempt to reconnect with fans following his release in November 2021.

The former K-pop star’s attempted return to the Japanese entertainment scene just four years later raised questions about the sincerity of his remorse, leading to growing social unrest in Korea.

Separation of public and private life

Industry experts suggest that the public and private lives of former K-pop musicians should be considered separately, even though this may have a negative impact on the global popularity of K-pop.

Pop culture critic Jung Deok-hyun believes it is unfair to restrict their private lives due to past mistakes.

“I think their past crimes and their personal lives (after serving their prison sentences) should be considered separately. It is not right to prevent them from starting their own business if it does not affect public opinion. If their activities cause a new problem, it should be addressed,” the reference person said on Wednesday, July 10.

Choi Jong-hoon, former member of FT Island. Photo: FNC Entertainment

Music critic Lim Hee-yun also agreed that former K-pop stars should not be criticized for everything they do in their private lives.

“There are many private matters (related to recent reports involving three former K-pop singers). Since they have paid for their sins, they have the right to live their lives,” Lim said on Wednesday.