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.