K-pop Star Charged with Habitual Gambling by South Korea
Shoo, a member of the 1990s K-Pop band S.E.S., has been prosecuted by the South Korean government for illegal overseas gambling. South Korea has some of the most far-reaching anti-gambling laws, where citizens can be prosecuted for gambling in other countries — even when that gambling is considered legal in those foreign lands.
The criminal charge against the 37-year old Shoo, who’s real name is Yoo Soo-young, includes three charges of “habitual gambling”. She was indicted in late-December without physical detention.
Shoo was charged with gambling on several trips between August 2016 to May 2018 to Macau. She gambled roughly $617,000 in her various trips to China’s gaming capital.
Park and Yoon’s Accusations
Two people — who only had the surnames “Park” and “Yoon” — alleged that Shoo was guilty of “swindling”, though Seoul’s prosecutors dropped those charges eventually.
The accusers claimed that Shoo had not paid back a loan. Prosecutors said, while Shoo did not pay back the loan to her creditors, she had not swindled them.
From the time S.E.S. debuted in 1998 until its eventual breakup in 2002, the supergroup dominated the K-Pop music industry. S.E.S. were the first Korean artists to debut and sing in Japanese after the lifting of a World War II-era restriction on exchanges between Japan and Korea.
Subsequently, the South Korean trio was one of the first highly successful girl groups in the K-pop niche. They were trailblazers, though groups like Baby V.O.X. and Fin.K.L. soon appeared to challenge their mastery of the South Korea music scene.
Shoo’s K-pop Career
When the contracts of bandmates Bada and Eugene ended in December 2002, the group’s run came to an end. The group released hit songs like “I’m Your Girl”, “Oh, My Love!”. “Dreams Come True”, “Love”, “Twilight Zone”, “I’ve Been Waiting for You”, and “Be Natural”.
Since their breakup in 2002, each of the three performers pursued solo careers. Shoo continued with SM Entertainment until 2006. In 2010, Shoe married Im Hyo-sung, a famous basketball player. Since then, the couple have had three children. On occasions, S.E.S. reunites for concerts or other projects, such as their 2016 reality show “Remember, I’m Your S.E.S.”.
According to reports, Shoo’s gaming would have remained secret had she paid the bills. The two people who came forward to make allegations have Korean surnames, so they would not have been the Macau casino owners themselves.
Because casino credit in Macau is advanced by junket operators, it appears that those alleging habitual gambling and swindling were Korean junket operators. While the accusers’ charges were made anonymously, the fact South Korean authorities released their names could be bad for business for Yoon and Park — given other Korean gamblers would be unlikely to use their services for fear of similar accusations.
Of course, Park and Yoon are listed as the 3rd and 9th most common surnames in Korea. Tourists might not be able to narrow down the accusers by the realease of surnames, though the two in conjuctions might narrow down their identity.
Korean Baseball Players Charged
This is not the first time a Korean celebrity has been charged with gambling in foreign casinos. Baseball pitcher Seung-hwan Oh was accused of foreign gambling when he was a pitcher for the Hamshin Tigers in 2015. He later signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and currently plays with the Colorado Rockies, though his gambling would have hurt his career in Japan — and led to charges in South Korea.
In 2016, prosecutors in Changwon City charged two baseball players with manipulation of games for the sake of betting. Lee Tae Yang, a pitcher in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), and Moon Woo-ram, an outfielder with a military baseball team in KBO’s second-tier league, were charged by authorities.