To Catch a K-Pop Predator — New Documentary Profiles Journalists Who Nailed Jung Joon-young

Documentary Jung Joon-young
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Documentary Jung Joon-young
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Photo Credit: Harry Cotter / CC by 4.0

BBC’s new documentary profiles the South Korean journalists who exposed the sex abuse crimes of former K-pop star and DJ Jung Joon-young.

“Burning Sun,” the new BBC documentary, delves into the South Korean sex scandal that brought to light the crimes of several K-pop celebrities, including serial rapist Jung Joon-young. It follows the story of two journalists, Park Hyo-Sil and Kang Kyung-Yoon, who investigated the sex abuse scandal and exposed Joon-young. Both journalists share their individual narratives.

Allegations against Jung Joon-young first surfaced in 2016, when he was a beloved TV star and the singer and songwriter for Korean rock band Drug Restaurant. Journalist Park Hyo-Sil reported allegations that Joon-young had recorded sexually explicit footage of his then-girlfriend without her consent — a crime called “molka” in South Korea.

Despite Hyo-Sil claiming that her editor told her it was a “big case being investigated,” Joon-young’s former girlfriend soon recanted her allegations, leading to Hyo-Sil suffering harassment and abuse from the public for years thereafter.

Journalist Kang Kyung-Yoon eventually picked up Hyo-Sil’s story, uncovering “disturbing evidence” implicating Joon-young, in an investigation that led to several other South Korean celebrity names cropping up. Kyung-Yoon’s investigation uncovered a group chat containing sexually explicit content and chats that detailed gang rape.

Overall, the investigation resulted in the arrest of Jung Joon-young and several other male K-pop stars, including Choi Jong-Hoon of rock band FT Island, and Seungri of BigBang. The investigation also exposed a senior police contact who had been protecting the abusers.

Park Hyo-Sil and Kang Kyung-Yoon open up about the scandal and investigation in BBC’s “Burning Sun” documentary, as well as discussing the abuse they faced while reporting on the story. Hyo-Sil says people threatened her newspaper editor, threatening to set fire to the building if they didn’t terminate her employment. She also received death threats.

“My husband was incredibly worried and told me not to go into the office, not to leave the house because it seemed so dangerous,” Hyo-Sil said. “I started receiving phone calls in the early hours,” the journalist added. “I was pregnant, and I was in such shock. I was so mentally shattered that even going out of the house was difficult.” She blames the abuse and subsequent stress for her two miscarriages.

Kyung-Yoon was also pregnant during her investigation into the scandal. She tells BBC that the abuse she faced often focused on her being pregnant, and how much that scared her. “Something might happen to the baby,” she recalled thinking. “My heart was incredibly lonely and exhausted,” she elaborated, though ultimately concluding, “I have no regrets.”

The court cases against all men involved in the scandal resulted in convictions, according to the BBC. The music idols all received prison time, though the senior police contact who faced charges for protecting those involved ultimately walked free following an acquittal.

“Burning Sun” is available to stream on the BBC iPlayer, the BBC World Service YouTube channel, and will air on BBC News as a series in June.