A former K-pop singer has been sentenced to a year in South Korean prison for blowing over $3m on an illegal online gambling site and lying to the authorities investigating his activity.
On Monday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the Seoul Southern District Court had sentenced Jung Jin Woo (pictured), a member of the pop group M2M who got his big break via an Idol-style television program, to one year in prison for illegal gambling.
Court documents indicate that the 32-year-old Jung was originally cautioned over his gambling activity way back in 2007, but the warning didn’t take. Jung was again caught gambling online in 2014, but he convinced his mother’s boyfriend to claim that he’d been the one gambling on Jung’s online account. Mom’s squeeze was eventually slapped with a KRW 1m (US $900) fine.
But Jung’s close call failed to dissuade him from continuing to gamble online, and he even acted as a promoter for the unidentified online sports betting site from August to September last year.
Eventually, the authorities closed in on Jung, who reportedly spent a whopping KRW 3.5b ($3.1m) in 1,500 separate transactions with the betting site over the years. Jung later told the authorities that he gambled online to make money to maintain the flash life of a celebrity that his fans had come to expect.
Jung eventually copped to his misdeeds, but in doing so, revealed the subterfuge involving his step-father. The court claimed this deception played a major role in Jung’s sentence. Worse, step-dad’s false confession earned him a sentence of two years of probation.
Jung isn’t the first South Korean celebrity to fall afoul of the country’s strict anti-gambling laws. Numerous K-pop stars, TV personalities and sports figures have all been forced to do the bow of shame after getting caught engaging in illegal gambling activity.
Incredibly, South Korea’s anti-gambling laws don’t even stop at the water’s edge. South Korean citizens are subject to prosecution even if they’re gambling in a jurisdiction in which such activity is completely above board, although prosecutions tend to be reserved for serious spenders, as leniency can be shown to those who gamble “just for momentary pleasure.”