‘Habitual’ Gambling Problem of a Former K-Pop Taken to Court

K-pop is a genre of music which has become popular not only in South Korea but all over the world. K-pop stars enjoy huge worldwide popularity and many of them fill arenas even in Europe and the US. However, South Korea has something else besides popular musicians, and that is strick gambling laws.

Shoo is a former band-member of an all-girl K-pop group called S.E.S who also does a bit of acting. According to a news outlet from South Korean, Shoo is potentially facing a prison sentence of about three years if she gets convicted on charges that she spent KRW 790 million (which is roughly $707,000) on gambling in casinos in Macau in a period that lasted for two years.


Two private lenders were responsible for bringing Shoo’s activities to the court as she had borrowed approximately KRW600 million in June in order to participate in gambling activities in a foreigners-only casino located in Seoul and called Paradise Walker Hill Casino. One of the reasons why the private lenders went for a civil action was due to the fact that Shoo failed to pay back her debts.

However, the main reason why Shoo is facing a potential prison time was the South Korean law that strictly forbids Korean citizens to gamble in any of the domestic casinos except for Kangwon Land resort which is located in the northern part of Seoul. There is one thing that makes things easier for Shoo, and that is the fact that she is a Japanese resident as well. Therefore, she has an overseas permanent resident card which technically allows her to take part in gambling activities. However, she also has South Korean citizenship, thus being an offender nevertheless.

The trouble doesn’t end there for Shoo, who claimed to be ignorant of the local gambling laws. Namely, she has also been charged with domestic gambling and fraud. However, the prosecutors dropped those charged after receiving no formal record about the money that the former singer borrowed.

Nevertheless, Shoo made another huge offence by gambling in Macau casinos. According to South Korea’s extraterritorial laws, its citizens are forbidden to engage in ‘habitual’ gambling activities in casino abroad. At the moment, the prosecutors are actively examining the sum of KRW 790 million that Shoo lost on gambling in the period between August 2016 and May 2018.

She is not the first person to be a subject of this law, as several other professional athletes and high-profile executives have been accused of ‘habitual’ gambling outside the borders of South Korea. On the other hand, gambling ‘just for current pleasure’ is not a crime according to the law of this Asian country. If Shoo is sentenced for a lesser offence, she will have to pay a fine of KRW 10 million ($9,000). On the other hand, if it is proven that all the accusations are correct, she could end up three years in prison and paying KRW 20 million for breaking the law.

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