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(LEAD) Moon orders thorough probe into snowballing scandal involving K-pop stars

Politics 19:38 March 18, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS last two paras with info about truth panel extending term for old cases; UPDATES with minor edits)

SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered a thorough investigation into a snowballing drug and sex scandal allegedly involving a member of famous K-pop band BIGBANG.

He also instructed officials to scrutinize allegations that a former vice justice minister received sexual service in exchange for a business favor in 2013 and the 2009 suicide of late rookie actress Jang Ja-yeon.

"The current leadership of the prosecution and police should stake the fate of their organizations with responsibility on uncovering the truth and becoming a law enforcement agency that can reveal its own shameful acts so as to regain trust," Moon was quoted as saying by presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

"I am stressing that if we cannot fix it, we cannot call this society a just one," Moon added.

The drug and sex scandal, involving Seungri of BIGBANG, shook the nation as he faces allegations that he arranged sexual services for potential investors from abroad at a local nightclub. He was a public relations director for Burning Sun, a club in southern Seoul where illegal drug use and sexual violence are alleged to have frequently occurred.

Jung Joon-young, a singer-songwriter and TV personality, is alleged to have filmed videos of himself having sex with women without their consent and shared the footage with Seungri and other friends in a mobile chat room.

The scandal shows no sign of abating due to potential collusion between some nightclub owners, stars and police officers who turned a blind eye to various crimes allegedly committed by them in return for financial gains.

Former vice justice minister Kim Hak-ui was under fresh condemnation over allegations that he received sexual services arranged by a construction contractor in return for business favors.

He was cleared of the charge in 2013, but calls for a new probe have arisen amid allegations that he raped women and appeared in sex videos with them.

Late actress Jang hanged herself in her house in 2009 and left a suicide note saying she was forced by her entertainment agency to provide sex to at least 30 men, including the head of a major newspaper.

The cases of the ex-vice minister Kim and Jang have been reinvestigated by a truth panel under the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, along with a deadly 2009 clash between police and protesters in Yongsan, after questions arose that the prosecution may have mishandled the old cases because they implicated high-profile figures.

On Monday, the Ministry of Justice announced that it will extend the panel's term for another two months until May, given the growing calls for the truth to be revealed amid fresh allegations that are surfacing.

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