Entertainer back to face questions over gambling

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Entertainer back to face questions over gambling


Shin Jung-hwan appears at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency for questioning yesterday afternoon after five months of exile to dodge an investigation into gambling and foreign currency law violations. By Kim Dae-hye

Korean entertainer Shin Jung-hwan, 36, who is accused of illegal gambling in the Philippines, returned to Korea yesterday after five months of exile to avoid police interrogation. He was taken straight to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency around 12:30 p.m., as soon as he arrived at Gimpo Airport,

“Five months seemed like five years and my actions disappointed many people. I will tell [the police] everything,” Shin said to reporters before being taken in, national media reported.

Shin told reporters he was in Nepal and added that “everything I say now will sound like an excuse. I will be punished for the things I have done wrong. I will faithfully engage in police investigation.”

The disgraced entertainer, a comedian and singer, was believed to have once again indulged last August in his penchant for gambling. In 2005, he was ordered by a court to pay 7 million won ($6,334) to an acquaintance for failing to return borrowed money. Shin gambled the money away at Kangwon Land in Gangwon Province, which operates only casino in Korea that Korean citizens can play in.

This time, Shin was rumored to be unable to leave Cebu, the Philippines, after amassing hundreds of millions of won in gambling debt while playing baccarat at a hotel casino. Media reports said that Shin also surrendered his passport to Korean money lenders in Cebu as collateral for the debt.

After the media spotlighted Shin’s illegal gambling spree last September, Shin was fired from all three popular national television networks - SBS, MBC and KBS - where he hosted shows. Gimpo Airport’s arrivals terminal was packed at 11 a.m. with reporters waiting for Shin to exit the gates. Another 200 reporters were at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Jongno, central Seoul. Police will investigate how much time Shin spent in the Philippines, how much money he used and where he borrowed money from.

If Shin gets charged with illegal gambling, he may be fined and imprisoned for three years. Shin may also be fined for violating Korea’s Passport Act for using his passport as collateral.

By Yim Seung-hye [enational@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

신정환 “난 못난 놈 … 많이 혼내달라”
“그동안 네팔에 있었다” 다리 절며 경찰 출두

“5개월이 5년 같이 느껴졌습니다. 제가 남자답지 못했고 솔직하지 못한 점에 대해 다시 한번 죄송하다는 말씀 드립니다.”

 해외 원정도박 의혹으로 물의를 빚은 방송인 신정환(36)씨가 19일 낮 12시35분 서울지방경찰청에 출두해 조사를 받았다. 경찰관과 함께 은색 싼타페 차량을 타고 서울청에 도착한 신씨는 입구에서 기다리던 취재진에게 ”어떤 말씀을 드려도 변명이고 핑계일 거다. 많은 사랑을 받았는데 실망시켜 드려서 죄송하고 많이 혼나겠다“고 말했다.

그동안 어디 있었는지를 묻는 질문에는 “네팔에 있었다”고 말했다. 또 원정 도박설에 대해선 “경찰청에서 성실히 조사받고 말하겠다”고 답했다. 답변을 마친 신씨는 도착 2분 만에 조사실로 올라갔다. 경찰은 이날 신씨를 상대로 도박 자금 규모와 출처등을 조사했다. 경찰서 유치장에서 수면을 취하게 한 뒤 20일 조사를 계속할 계획이다. 상습도박 혐의가 인정될 경우 신씨는 3년 이하의 징역이나 2000만원 이하의 벌금에 처해질 수 있다. …

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