Yang Hyun Suk, producer of YG Entertainment, had his conviction overturned from not guilty to a suspended sentence in the appeal trial for charges of retaliation and extortion.
On the 8th of November, the Criminal Division 6-3 of the Seoul High Court held the appeal trial hearing for Yang Hyun Suk ‘s charges of violating the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes (retaliation and extortion). On this day, the court sentenced Yang Hyun Suk to six months of imprisonment with a one-year suspended sentence. Former YG manager Kim was also sentenced to four months of imprisonment with a one-year suspended sentence.
The court explained, “The prosecutor appealed based on the credibility of the victim’s statement, claiming that the statement itself was consistent and caused fear.” It further stated, “There was also a change in the indictment. Additional charges of coercion were added against Yang Hyun Suk. It does not violate the right to defense.” The court continued, “In the first trial, there was no concrete evidence of harmful threats, and it was difficult to consider it as causing fear. Considering all the circumstances, the victim’s statement is difficult to acknowledge.” The court also mentioned that in the second trial, additional evidence was investigated according to the principle of substantial evidence.
The court stated, “It is acknowledged that the victim’s interview itself took place,” and explained the process of Yang Hyun Suk’s meeting with Han Seo-hee, as well as “acknowledging Yang Hyun Suk’s criticism and persuasion.” However, it added, “Specific harmful threats are not acknowledged. When considering everything, it is difficult to acknowledge the victim’s statement.”
The court emphasized, “The victim’s statement has continuously changed, and it is difficult to consider the change in statements as natural, even if there were parts that the victim remembered during the investigation. The prosecution also could not present additional evidence related to this, and it is difficult to understand under what circumstances harmful threats were made.”
The court further stated, “Regarding the indictment that includes Yang Hyun Suk’s request for a meeting or exercise of power, it can be felt as mental burden and pressure, and it cannot be said that the exercise of power did not occur,” and acknowledged guilt, stating, “As the representative of YG, Yang Hyun Suk criticized Han Seo-hee, taking advantage of his social position, at the office.”
In 2016, Yang Hyun Suk was indicted on charges of persuading and threatening whistleblower Han Seo-hee to cover up investigations related to B.I, a former member of the YG group iKON, who was accused of purchasing and using drugs. Yang Hyun Suk consistently denied the accusation that he called Han Seo-hee and said, “(In the entertainment industry) killing you is nothing.” However, in the first trial judgment in 2021, the prosecution sentenced Yang Hyun Suk to three years in prison, stating, “It is clear that harmful threats causing fear were made.”
However, in the first trial judgment on December 2022, the court declared Yang Hyun Suk not guilty, stating, “To punish for retaliation or coercion, the victim’s consent must be revoked due to the defendant’s actions causing the victim to experience fear and suppression of free will. However, even considering various circumstances, there was insufficient evidence that Yang Hyun-suk’s statements caused fear in the victim.” In response, the prosecution submitted an appeal, stating, “The first trial court misunderstood the facts and legal interpretation.”