Police HQ raided in Burning Sun club case

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Police HQ raided in Burning Sun club case

Prosecutors raided the police headquarters in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Friday in part of their probe of a senior officer who’s suspected to have illegally offered protection to K-pop celebrities to keep them out of trouble.

Those celebrities allegedly include Seungri, 28, a former member of the popular boy band Big Bang, and solo artist Jung Joon-young, 30, who rose to fame on “Superstar K” in 2012, when he took fourth place.

A senior superintendent only identified by the surname Yun is accused of abusing his power to dismiss complaints against the singers and their business partners, who operated nightclubs in the posh Gangnam District area of southern Seoul.

The most iconic of those shady establishments was the Burning Sun, which was partly owned by Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun. The nightclub was revealed earlier this year to be a hotbed of prostitution and drug use - and police protection.

On Friday morning, prosecutors and investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office arrived at the headquarters of the Korean National Police Agency to confiscate hard disks and other documents from Yun’s former office, from which he allegedly covered the backs of the K-pop celebrities.

Yun served as head of the community safety section in the Gangnam Police Precinct in 2015, after which he was assigned to the Central Police Academy in January 2016. He was promoted to senior superintendent rank later that year and assigned to serve as the women and juvenile section chief of the Gangwon Provincial Police Agency in December 2016.

In July 2017, Yun was dispatched to the Moon Jae-in Blue House for a year, working under the supervision of Moon’s then-senior secretary for civil affairs, Cho Kuk. He then went to the police headquarters to work as head of the police administration bureau’s personnel affairs section, and now works in the traffic control division of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Jongno District, central Seoul.

In July 2016, Yun is suspected to have used his power to dismiss a complaint against a club co-operated by Seungri in Gangnam, named Monkey Museum. When a neighboring venue notified the district authorities that the club’s interior decoration violated zoning laws - it had installed special lighting and operated as a club even though it was registered as a “general restaurant” - Yun allegedly pulled strings to dismiss the complaint, using his connections with the Gangnam Police Precinct.

Some local media outlets speculate the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office probe of Cho Kuk, who is now the minister of justice, might have links to the Burning Sun probe, though no clear connections have been proven yet.

BY KIM SU-MIN, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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