K-stars deny prostitution rumour
SEVERAL female South Korean celebrities whose names were caught up in rumours about a celebrity prostitution ring are taking legal action against the netizens who started the rumours.
The Ansan Branch of Suwon District Public Prosecutor's Office reported that a prostitution-ring scandal involving at least 10 female celebrities is being investigated, thanks to a lead from "broker A", Korean entertainment news site Soompi reported this month.
The report said that the names of the celebrities were included in broker A's notebook.
Although no names were given, hints such as actress B who is known for her poised image, actress C who made her debut through a beauty pageant and celebrity D from a girl group that has split up were reported.
This led to rumours spreading on the Internet that comedienne Jo Hye Ryun was the madam and that actress Lee Da Hae, singer Shinji, actress Kim Sarang, singer-actress Sol Bi and actress Hwang Soo Jung, among others, were the celebrities involved in the prostitution ring.
This naturally did not sit well with the celebrities named.
Jo, Lee, Shinji, Kim, Sol Bi and Hwan are among the first of those celebrities to make official statements declaring that they will take legal action against the netizens who started or played an important role in spreading the rumours.
Lee's agency said: "We will find the person who initially spread this false fact and take strong legal action, in order to prevent this rumour from being accepted as fact by many people.
"Many celebrities have been suffering from vicious rumours and attacking replies only because they are public figures. This kind of issue has become so serious that certain stars' names are being referred."
South Korean police will be conducting an investigation into the netizens that allegedly started the rumours, reports said.
Although there have been widespread rumours of female celebrities receiving support from wealthy or powerful men in return for sexual favours, this is the first time the authorities have secured evidence of a prostitution ring.
A related scandal broke out in 2009 when actress Jang Ja Yeon killed herself amid allegations that she was forced into providing sexual favours.
South Korean prosecutors are said to be planning to conduct a stringent investigation, prompting pundits to predict that severe penalties could be in store for those found guilty.