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Why is everyone talking about Seungri again?

Seungri (Photo by Mike M)

By Sabah S. Themis B.S. of Political Science, J.D. in Law and LL.M. in International Law

Seungri, (BigBang’s Lee Seunghyun), has been scrutinized by South Korean law enforcement officials, media, and netizens since March. He has fully cooperated with the investigation while adamantly maintaining his innocence.

The last few months, as investigations wound down, there has been a lull in the media; one that did not prevent vast speculation and judgment. When November rolled in and news about the molka trials broke out (involving Jung Joon Young and Choi Jong Hoon, et al) suddenly, everyone wanted to know, “What about Seungri?”

In South Korea, military service is mandatory for men, however, it can be postponed until the age of 28. Seungri’s Birthday is fast approaching and he will be turning 29 in December.

If the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) sends Seungri a notice of draft then he must enlist. According to Military Service Act, Article 60 unless a person is convicted of a crime or is under execution of his sentence they must report when called. Thus, Seungri will most likely enlist.

If that is the case, what happens to his legal battle?

Gambling: The Latest Allegation

On October 31, the police announced that the Sophisticated Crime Investigation Division will forward their completed investigation regarding Seungri’s gambling to the Prosecution on November 1 with a recommendation for an indictment for Habitual Gambling.

Since August, the Sophisticated Crime Investigation Division of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency had investigated Seungri’s connection to illegal gambling in Las Vegas, United States.

South Korean law is unique because it applies to citizens both in the country and abroad. Investigations about gambling abroad are usually done as a part of a more substantial case against a person.

According to the Criminal Code, gambling for momentary pleasure, or recreation is not a crime in South Korea, but, on the other hand, habitual gambling is illegal. Unfortunately, the Criminal Code does not explain what is habitual gambling. It is up to Prosecutors to interpret based on monetary figures and regularity of gambling.

Where the Case Stands

Seungri’s case is currently pending under review with the Prosecution. With the addition of the habitual gambling, the Prosecution has a total of eight alleged charges to consider when deciding to indict or not indict: Violation of Food Sanitation Act (involving Monkey Museum wrongfully registering business); Prostitution (For self);

Mediation (For others between Dec 2015-Jan 2016); Embezzlement (hiring legal representative fee); Embezzlement (involving Burning Sun revenues); Attempt to destroy evidence (unspecified); Violation of the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes (unspecified); and Habitual Gambling (Las Vegas gambling).

The Prosecutor must determine if the evidence is substantial and meets the burden of proof needed to indict and if such an indictment can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

If the Prosecutor indicts, Seungri will have to stand trial. One might ask, “Wait a minute, didn’t Seungri already have a trial? What was the hearing about the Arrest Warrant (AW) all about then?”

Judge Rejects AW

On May 14, at the pre-trial detention hearing, South Korean Police had failed to obtain a pre-trial detention warrant, also known as an AW, due to lack of evidence. Specifically, the prosecution failed to meet the standards of the burden of proof.

Presiding Judge Shin Jong Yeol, (the Seoul Central District Court) explained factors behind his decision by proclaiming; “There is room for dispute in regards to the main suspicion, which is embezzlement. It is also difficult to recognize a reason for detention, such as the potential destruction of evidence, in regards to the remaining suspicions.”

In addition, the Judge ruled that the Prosecution failed to meet the standard of probable cause to prove “the existence and scope of criminal liability.” Even the most simple and basic questions of “how the funds are withdrawn” and “the allocation of the funds” were left unanswered.

Plainly put, the Judge said the investigation on Seungri’s case didn’t have sufficient proof showing a reason for an AW to be granted. The evidence had major missing points and big holes to fill before the law could grant a request to hold the suspect in detention.

On May 15, the Seoul Central District Police said, “we’ll be respecting the results of the arrest warrant evaluation yesterday.” The Police acknowledged the lack of evidence required for extended detention and decided to continue the investigation without detention. On June 25, the Seoul Central District Police stated that Seungri’s case has been forwarded to the Prosecution with a total of seven charges recommended for Indictment.

Case Review by the Prosecution

In South Korea, only the Prosecution has the power and legal authority to indict. All criminal cases under investigation must be forwarded to the Prosecution for decision regardless of if the Police recommend or do not recommend indicting a particular allegation. The Prosecution is the sole deciding power on indictment by law.

When a case is forwarded to the Prosecution, it is up for review by the Prosecutor in charge of the case wherein they carefully examine the concluded police investigation and conduct an independent investigation to clarify any questions that arise during the review.

In the case of Seungri, the Prosecutor’s duty is to decide based on the law and evidence whether to indict or not.

An indictment is not an automatic verdict of guilt. Only after a fair trial, a court of law can declare a guilty verdict. Until then, by South Korean law and the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights: a suspect is “presumed innocent until declared guilty by a court of law.” 

If the Prosecution does not make a decision or indicts after he enlists then the case will continue under partnership of civilian and military authority. The MMA has special provisions to handle individuals who enlist while under investigation. The case will proceed in the Military Court. However, if the Prosecutor decides not to indict then Seungri’s case is finally closed.

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15 comments
  1. Thank goodness for neutral, well informed articles out there regarding this case. It’s hard to work your way through the mess the media made of all of this. Thanks BM for letting this get published 🙏 I’m sharing this where I can because this NEEDS to be read.

  2. I am glad to see there is still honest and factual journalism being done. This case has been very difficult to get accurate and clear answers about what is going on. It is refreshing to see it being reported through neutral and non biased information. I am so grateful and appreciative to both BM as a whole and the writer of this article. I hope to see and read many more clear, accurate and honest articles in the future!

  3. Thank you very much for providing the most up-to-date information regarding Seunghyun. Especially without the fluff.

  4. THIS is how Korea needs to do journalism. Most of Seungri’s accusations have been based on media driven rumors with no substance.

  5. Thank you for this article! It is a very clear and easy to digest explanation of what has been going on. Many people are getting lost in legal jargon they don’t understand, then speculating further based on their own misunderstandings. I also appreciate the clear and detailed list of his charges, as well as the clarification of when and how the MMA would take over.

  6. This is the reason why Korea is one of the most corrupted, money-hungry and biased country ever.
    I feel bad for the Victims.
    #RIPjustice

  7. I sometimes think is not so great to be a celebrity in Korea, this guy was sentence by the media since day one, too many heaters after him, let justice be done the legal way, there is enough people killing themselves, its so sad.

  8. I’m always frustrated after reading articles about Seungri. Thank you for this article, it’s nice to read about facts and not speculation or bias based news.

  9. Serious criminal, maybe fans want to be daped by him and his friend by drinking drugs haha. go for it Headless stupid kids 😂

    1. I’m assuming you didn’t read or understand the article at all? Also, what a vile thing to say. Please…before spewing words like that at least check yourself. I don’t think the “headless stupid kids” are the people you are claiming…that title would be more befitting to someone like you.

    2. I am a little confused..this is a creditable newspaper so it is a little insulting you would assume they are not giving them or the author of this article a little respect. Why do you think this has taken a while to be written and published. That it was not up straight away. They took their time gathering the information, making sure it was accurate and then wrote it. Not to mention that it had to be approved. You can think what you want fine, but do not go around claiming you know better when what is written are known facts. That is just silly and you do not help your case by name calling those who disagree with you.

  10. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s very informative and helped clarify a few things for me. I really appreciate that you took the time to write this and am very grateful for all the work you put into it.

  11. It is amazing how people have twisted everything and made Mountains out of a molehill. This article clearly states the case and each allegation. It explains the current situation. We can see the possibilities of how it might go and we can also decide for ourselves what to believe. But one thing is clear, none of the forwarded charges are serious offenses.

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