Seungri Where R U From MV
(YG Entertainment)

Burning Sun Documentary Reveals the K-Pop Idols Involved in a Horrific Scandal

The Burning Sun scandal shook Korea and the country’s entertainment industry to its core. Some of the biggest names in K-pop were involved in what appears to be the sex trafficking and abuse of countless women and girls by wealthy clientele and investors of the Burning Sun Club.

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The BBC has released a documentary about the 2019 scandal at the Burning Sun Club, where victims were drugged, sexually assaulted, and illegally filmed. Victims were reportedly drugged with GHB, a depressant that could cause memory loss, and taken to VIP clients to be assaulted. Many of the victims couldn’t even remember the assault taking place because they’d been drugged.

When news of the scandal first broke, fans were quick to defend the idols involved in the allegations and began attacking journalists. However, transcripts from infamous KakaoTalk chatrooms not only proved that the stars had participated in the rapes of multiple women, but also exposed them as key facilitators of the drugging, raping, and filming of the women they’ve victimized.

Seungri (Lee Hyun-seung)

Seungri Where R U From Music Video
(YG Entertainment)

Seungri, a former member of BIGBANG, owned the Burning Sun Club and was the biggest offender in this scandal. He was officially charged with sharing photos and videos of the victims that were taken without consent, mediating and soliciting sex work for himself and others, gambling, embezzlement, and drug smuggling, among other crimes.

Burning Sun has been closed since 2023, but Seungri has gotten off with barely a slap on his wrist. Seungri was sentenced to three years in prison and was released on February 9, 2023.

Jung Joon-young

Jung Joon-young performing 'I Love You'
(JTBC Entertainment)

Former singer Jung Joon-young was confirmed to have at least 10 victims. He participated in the gang rape of multiple women, filming and distributing illegal footage and photos of the women involved. He was sentenced to six years in prison, but it was reduced to five years.

Joon-young has just been released from prison on March 20, 2024.

Choi Jong-hoon

Choi Jong-hoon in a press conference
(The Korea Herald)

Choi Jong-hoon, F.T. Island’s lead guitarist, was sentenced to prison for five years. Like his accomplices, Choi was implicated in the gang rape of a fan in Daegu, South Korea. Choi was charged with rape and illegal filming of women.

His five-year sentence was shortened, and Choi only served two and a half years in prison. Choi was released on November 8, 2021. He plans to return to the music industry.

Kim San-kyo

The whistleblower, Kim San-kyo, was also sentenced to two years of probation for sexually assaulting a woman at the Burning Sun Club. He is mandated to go through a 40-hour sexual violence treatment program and 80 hours of community service work.

Yoo In-suk

The CEO of Yuri Holdings, Yoo In-suk, has been charged with procuring sex work for foreign investors, just like Seungri. He was also found guilty of embezzlement. Yoo was sentenced to prison for one year and eight months.

Yoon Kyu-geun

Yoon Kyu-geun is the police chief who allegedly colluded with Seungri at the Burning Sun Club. He was acquitted of all charges in relation to the Burning Sun scandal.

Goo Ha-ra

Goo Ha-ra in her Choco Chip Cookies Music Video
(RBW)

There is one silver lining to this tragic case: The late K-pop idol and actress Goo Ha-ra played a crucial role in exposing the police chief, Yoon Kyu-geun. Thanks to her efforts, journalists and authorities became aware of the police chief’s involvement.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence, contact RAINN or the National Sexual Abuse Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. 


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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.