Shin Jong Bum
Lawyer from Law Office Nurim
Former Military Prosecutor affiliated with Ministry of National Defense
I did not know well who Park Yuchun was. One day, after I’ve seen his name being placed as No. 1 on the real time search words, I searched for him and found out a report of sexual assault allegation was filed against him and came to know he was a quite famous Hallyu star. Then, I realised I may have seen him on TV. When I said I didn’t know Park Yuchun well, people called me ‘Ajae’ (different form of ahjussi). Anyhow, a report of allegation was filed against him that he sexually assaulted an alleged victim in a toilet inside the place while he was drinking at a amusement-drinking establishment. The plaintiff was an employee at that establishment. The reports related to this case almost covered all the media and Internet. The plaintiff filed the report a week after from the date of being assaulted and withdrew the report a few days later. But, the crime of rape wasn’t an offense subject to complaint anymore, the police continued to investigate.
Meanwhile, all sorts of reports were uploaded via newspaper and internet sites and so-called specialists appeared in general service channels and disgorged various kinds of assumptions.
Such channels kindly let us know in details about the contents that likely to stir up peoples’ curiosity and instincts including the relationship between the plaintiff and Park Yuchun, who were with him while drinking, what kind of establishment that place was, why the toilet was the place of sexual assault and how much was given in exchange for withdrawing the report. Moreover, the case which seemed to be wrapped up with the withdrawal of the report rather significantly magnified. As soon as the report had been withdrawn, three more women consecutively filed reports claiming to be sexually assaulted by Park. The case amplified the interests from public more and heated up the Internet and media. The focuses of cameras kept a close watch on Park’s agency and the district office where he was working as a public service worker and took every move of his. He barely managed to commute to his work place without being surrounded by robust security guards. His look caught among the security guards was too haggard to be suitable for the name of a Hallyu star.
Regardless of the investigation result, he seemed to be already given a severe sentence by the public.
Then, one month later, the news came out reporting that the police would proceed all four of sexual assault reports against him with being not guilty. However, the reports on Park’s being found not guilty was briefly dealt with while giving its place to the reports on other important issues such as the case of a certain high-rank government officer who compared ordinary Korean people to dogs and pigs or the THAAD deployment to Korea.
Now, the people and media seem to have no interest in him being not guilty.
I am well aware of Kang Jung Ho. Partly because I like baseball since I was a child so that I’ve known about many professional baseball players. And, in this case, it is more likely because Nexon to which Kang Jung Ho used to belong is one of my favorite teams. After he entered Major League Baseball which is full of prominent players last year, he has shown confident attitude without being daunted at all and recorded many hits and home runs. Even though he joined his team a little late this year due to the operation of the injury he had gotten during the game at the end of last year and consequent rehabilitation, he has continued to show good records and surpassed all the worries from the people around him. Yet, I heard the news that a report based on the allegation of sexually assaulting a women was filed against him. Maybe because I hadn’t known Park Yuchun so well, I thought Kang Jung Ho’s case was a bigger news than Park Yuchun’s. I thought subsequent reports related to this case would continue and there would be a fuss one more time on the internet and media.
However, after the news that reporting Kang Jung Ho was being in the investigation for the allegation of sexually assaulting a woman, there was no further news beyond it.
It was hard to find subsequent reports or some other reports that would attract our curiosity. The day after the case was reported, Kang Jung Ho played as the cleanup hitter in the starting lineup and even made a reverse hit. During the interviews with the media as a contributing player, there was no mention about the sexual assault case.
His team and all the personnel as well as Kang Jung Ho haven’t responded any interviews related to the sexual assault case and the media has not made any kind of reports that are based on speculations.
There has been no source from the local media so Korean media isn’t likely to have any story to write either. Anyway, up to the point when the investigation result comes out, Kang Jung Ho seems to play the game as usual and demonstrates his caliber.
The reports based on the allegations of sexual assault were filed against both Park Yuchun and Kang Jung Ho.
While Park Yuchun was already marked as a criminal even before the investigation result came out so that it became almost impossible for him not only to work in the entertainment field, but also to live a daily life due to the media attention and the cold stare from public, Kang Jung Ho has appeared in the game and has swung his bat as though nothing happened and the fans of the team which he belongs to approve his entry to the lineup.
Why have existed such differences? We can find the reason from the differences between the perspectives among people in the two countries toward how to view entertainers and sports players or the differences of the media environment between two countries.
Above all, we can get a sense of the reason from the differences of the attitudes toward how to treat the alleged suspects of criminal cases.
After the report was filed against Kang Jung Ho, his team has given him no disadvantage according to ‘the presumption of innocence’ with making it clear that the case is still at the stage of evidence collecting and his team hasn’t responded to any interviews related to the case. Again, the US police that is currently investigating this case says it won’t give any official statements until the indictment decision will be made.
‘The presumption of innocence’ which is also specified by our Constitution is a grand principle for the criminal action. Moreover, according to our criminal law, the investigation organization will be punished if it violates the principle of publication of facts of suspected crime before a demand of a trial. It is questionable indeed such principle has been kept in Park Yuchun’s case.
We have witnessed the instances that reporting unidentified facts of suspected crime before indictment has caused irreparable damages to somebody in spite of later receiving the final verdict of not guilty by the court.
The abuse of human rights by the instinctive curiosity from the public with the disguised name of right to know should be prevented.
Indeed, I am wondering whether Kang Jung Ho could be continuously appearing in the game if he were in Korea.
Source: Law Journal
Do not alter the content!
Shin Jong Bum
Law firm ‘Nurim’ lawyer
Former military prosecutor, Ministry of National Defense’s general ligation
I did not know fully who Park Yuchun is. I was able to identify the contents and rather a famous Hallyu star where he was accused under the suspicions of sexual assault; when I looked at the search engine with the No.1 search word rising up in real-time on the Internet one day. Come to think of it, I think I saw it on TV too. Because I did not know Park Yuchun well, I am called ‘ajae’ [T/N: an old guy who has old-fashioned style] by those who see me. Anyways, Park Yuchun is being accused of charges that he sexually assaulted a female victim at an entertainment bar; in the toilet at said bar where he was having a drink at. The complainant is a working girl at that bar. Related reports about the case were plastered on the Internet and in the presses. The complainant makes her allegations after one week from the day she suffered the sexual assault, and retracted her allegations after a few days. But, as it is not a rape crime nor a crime subject to the complainant’s allegations anymore, the police are continuously conducting their investigation. Meanwhile all kinds of articles come up via the newspapers and Internet, and people who are so-called experts on comprehensive programmings spill out and create all sorts of speculations they can come up with. They kindly divulge in details contents that are worthy in prompting people’s curiosities and instincts about what kind of relationship the complainant and Park Yuchun have, who was together with him at the drinking party, what kind of business establishment that bar is, why the scene of the sexual assault was the toilet, how much did he give her in return for dropping the charges, and etc. Nonetheless, the case that seemed to have concluded with the withdrawal of the charges, rather developed into magnifying full-blown out. As soon as the charges were dropped, 3 other women filed their complaints back to back about having suffered sexual assaults from Mr. Park. The case amplified the public’s interests more, and got heated on the Internet and in the presses. Cameras trained their lens on Mr. Park’s agency and on the District Office where Mr. Park is working as a public service worker, and posted about Mr. Park’s every move. Mr. Park can barely come and go to his workplace surrounded by sturdily-built security guards. Caught between security guards, Mr. Park’s image is too haggard and the modifier of Hallyu star is put to shame. Any way the investigation results are, Mr. Park seemed to be condemned with a severe sentence already from the public. And after 1 month, there are reports that the police have cleared Mr. Park of all the 4 counts of sexual assaults in the case with allegations against him. However, reports about the acquittal of Mr. Park have been brief, giving way to different deep events; like the case of a senior executive official who compared citizens to dogs or pigs and the THAAD deployment. Now the presses and people seem to have no interest toward the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Park.
Kang Jung-ho is someone I am familiar with. Although I have liked baseball from childhood and do know a lot of professional baseball players, it is especially because Nexen Heroes –which Kang Jung-ho was affiliated with– is one of the professional baseball teams I like. Upon entering Major League Baseball in the United States last year, he has shot off hits and home runs with a completely unintimidated, assertive image on the American stage lining with the biggest players. Although he joined a team slightly late after having an operation on an injury and going through rehabilitation in the middle of games at the end of last year to even this year, he dispelled concerns surrounding him and continued his good performance. But, then I received news he was charged with sexually assaulting a woman. I do not know if it is because I did not know Park Yuchun well, but I thought Kang Jung-ho’s case was bigger news than Park Yuchun’s case. I thought a relevant follow-up report would ensue, and a fuss would grow once again from the Internet and the presses. But, on there being an investigation into Kang Jung-ho getting charged with sexually assaulting a female; the story was just up to there. I could not find a report, a tolerable one, that was a follow-up report nor attracted curiosity any more. The next day after there was the report about the case, Kang Jung-ho appeared starting as the 4th hitter, and smacked as far as a reverse hit. In the presses and an interview as a valuable player, the story of his sexual assault case did not turn up. Besides Kang Jung-ho, both the club and officials have not responded to interviews in connection with the sexual assault, and the presses also have not made any speculative reports. They have not accepted references from the local presses. It seems there are no written details even from the domestic presses. Anyway, until the investigation results come out, it looks like Kang Jung-ho can take part in games and show his skills as usual.
Park Yuchun and Kang Jung-ho both have been charged with the suspicion of sexual assault. Park Yuchun already is branded as a criminal before the investigation results have come out, and it has become almost impossible for him to have entertainment activities and, of course, even an ordinary life everyday due to the presses’ interests and the public’s cold stares; but Kang Jung-ho is swinging his bat taking part in games as if nothing had happened at all, and fans of the team he belongs to are in favor of him getting to take part in games. Why did these differences happen? Although I can find those reasons in the differences between Koreans and Americans who watches celebrities and professional athletes, or the differences of the presses and the circumstances between the two countries; I can get a sense of those reasons also from the disparity in attitudes toward suspects accused as criminals. Even after Kang Jung-ho was accused, the team which he belongs to are withholding from giving Kang Jung-ho any disadvantage, merely saying they are still in the evidence collection stage in accordance with the ‘principle of the presumption of innocence’; and have not responded even to a press interview in regards to the incident. It is said they will not make an official announcement before the American police –who are in the middle of investigating the case– have decided whether to prosecute. The ‘principle of the presumption of innocence’ is a broad principle in a criminal suit that is stipulated even in our Constitution. Also, our criminal law has stipulated the investigative authorities be criminally penalized if they release facts of the suspected crime before a demand for a trial. It is a query undoubtedly to when observing how this principle is obeyed in Park Yuchun’s case. There were times we have seen irreparable and damaging instances where unconfirmed facts of the suspected crime already before prosecution received coverage, despite the person being found not guilty in a court of law once and for all. There should not be an incident that infringes on the human rights of an individual, packaged under the name of the public’s right to know instinctive curiosity. Indeed, I wonder whether or not baseball player Kang Jung-ho could have taken part in games continuously if he was in Korea.