South Korea police make thousands of drug arrests in wake of Burning Sun scandal

South Korean musician Lee Seung-hyun (C), or Seungri, has been questioned by police since March, on charges he is responsible for drugging and raping incidents at Burning Sun, a Seoul nightclub catering to wealthy clientele. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

May 30 (UPI) — Nearly 4,000 people have been either taken into police custody or arrested on drug-related charges in South Korea, three months after drugging-and-rape incidents were exposed at Burning Sun, the nightclub owned by K-pop band member Seungri.

South Korea’s national police agency said Thursday a total of 3,994 people were arrested in a sweeping crackdown that included raids at more than 100 entertainment establishments where drug trafficking and prostitution were commonplace, local news service MoneyToday reported.

Most of the suspects taken into custody were released. A total of 920 suspects remain in detention, authorities said.

Most of those arrested, 886 suspects, are charged with “drug-related crimes,” 23 people are charged with sexual assault or rape while under the influence of narcotics, and 11 people are charged with taking illegal videos during drug use.

In March, President Moon Jae-in called for an investigation into the Burning Sun scandal, and the club where wealthy clientele raped drugged women, as police looked the other way.

The massive crackdown has resulted in more than a doubling, or a 144.3 percent increase, in the number of known drug offenses, according to police.

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On Thursday, police released other data, including the demographics of the offenders. Most of the suspects were in their 20s and 30s, and nearly 40 percent of the crimes involved the use of ecstasy, the amphetamine-based synthetic drug with euphoric and hallucinatory effects.

A total of 148 “large-scale” entertainment establishments were raided in the course of the police investigation. Police have asked the national tax office for permission to confiscate $1.6 million in illicit assets and to tax more than $23 million of club revenues that may have gone unreported to local authorities.

The Burning Sun scandal has extended its reach beyond South Korea’s borders.

Korea Herald reported Wednesday a fugitive Malaysian businessman, Jho Low, solicited prostitutes at parties hosted by K-pop mogul Yang Hyun-suk.

Yang groomed members of Big Bang, the band that brought fame to Burning Sun’s Seungri before his “retirement” from show business.

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