Hyundai Group heir busted for drugs

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Hyundai Group heir busted for drugs

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A grandson of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung is questioned by reporters at Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency after being arrested for alleged drug use at Incheon International Airport on Sunday. [YONHAP]

The grandson of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, a 29-year-old surnamed Chung, was arrested for alleged drug use after returning to Korea from Britain at Incheon International Airport on Sunday.

Chung is alleged to have used highly enriched liquid THC on three occasions in Seoul last year. Authorities suspect he purchased the drug from a 27-year-old dealer surnamed Lee, the same person who allegedly provided the highly concentrated marijuana derivative to the eldest grandson of SK Group founder Chey Jong-gun, Chey Young-geun. Chey was arrested earlier this month for buying and using liquid THC. Police questioned and arrested Lee in February.

Chung did not respond to reporters’ questions at the airport on Sunday on whether he admitted to the charge of illegal drug use.

Chung was in Britain since late February but returned to Korea to submit to police investigations, according to authorities.

Chung’s arrest follows a number of arrests of heirs and heiresses to Korea’s chaebol amid a police crackdown on drug abuse.

Chey, who has been detained since April 8, allegedly purchased and used the marijuana products from the dealer surnamed Lee on over 15 occasions from March to May last year. Police said Chey admitted to the charges and that he tested positive in a drug test. Chey studied in the United States and was an employee of SK D&D when he was arrested.

Hwang Ha-na, the granddaughter of Namyang Dairy Products founder Hong Du-yeong, was placed under pretrial detention on drug charges on April 6. Hwang is accused of selling 0.5 grams of methamphetamine to a college student and using the substance herself in September 2015, as well as illegally buying the prescription tranquilizer Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin, in April last year.

The first probe into drug allegations against Hwang began in 2015, but it was eventually dropped by the police two years later with no charges filed. The university student, however, was convicted of buying and using the drug by the Seoul Central District Court in January 2016.

Police picked up the case against Hwang once more last October, but they were unable to make much headway after two earlier warrant requests for her arrest were turned down by prosecutors.

But after investigators recently uncovered new evidence that pointed to drug consumption by the heiress as late as last October, police placed her under immediate arrest on April 4 at a hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi. A subsequent court hearing on April 6 upheld her detention after the presiding judge ruled that she was a flight risk and likely to tamper with evidence.

The court’s decision may have been prompted by widespread suspicion that she may have dodged incrimination for her illegal activities due to her family’s ties to top officials in the police and prosecution.

Citing a KakaoTalk group chat record it obtained, one tabloid outlet reported earlier this month that Hwang had often flaunted her parents’ connections with powerful law enforcement figures to her acquaintances, boasting that these figures would get her off the hook if she got into trouble with the law.

BY CHOI EUN-KYUNG, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]



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