Former KeSPA chairman to be questioned in court following alleged bribery row

Jeon Byung-Hun has been accused of exerting his influence to solicit bribes.

Jeon Byung-Hun, Screengrab via SPOTV Games/KeSPA

The former chairman of the Korean Esports Association (KeSPA) has been charged with bribery following a major investigation by the Korean prosecutors office.

Korean prosecutors raided KeSPA’s headquarters last week, and three individuals have been taken into custody. The three men, two of whom acted as former KeSPA chairman Jeon Byung-Hun’s aides, are believed to have embezzled large sums of money provided to the association as part of a sponsorship from Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, which specializes in the retail industry.

Prosecutors say they are in possession of correspondence between Byung-Hun and former Lotte Homeshopping chief Jeon Hyun-Gu, in which Hyun-Gu offered KeSPA a substantial sum of money for favors from Byung-Hun. Following the raid on the KeSPA headquarters, Korean prosecutors found that a payment of $269,000 from Lotte Homeshopping was sent to KeSPA. The payment was, however, found to have been transferred from the association’s coffers, and is believed to have been embezzled by Byung-Hun and his aides.

During his tenure as KeSPA chairman, Byung-Hun sat on the Korean broadcasting and communications committee, which took a hardline stance against several home shopping networks in 2015, leading to punishment in the shape of withdrawn broadcasts and even jail time in one instance.

Aside from apparently soliciting bribes, Byung-Hun is also believed to have used his former position within the government to secure highly coveted jobs for friends and relatives. One of Byung-Hun’s former secretaries, Yoon Moo, is alleged to have spent roughly $89,000 of the association’s funds on personal expenses, according to Korean news portal Daum—giving further credence to theories that Byung-Hun offered favors in order to be awarded the seat as KeSPA chairman.

As it now stands, Byung-Hun’s actions during his time at KeSPA has become a national news story. Not only due to his current position as one of the senior secretaries of South Korea’s current president Moon Jae-In—but also because of his apparent engagement in corruption within the country’s gaming industry, in which he was a powerful figure.

It is still unclear as to how widespread the alleged corruption surrounding Byung-Hun goes, but as of right now, the South Korean esports industry seems emblematic of the nation’s ongoing battle against government corruption.

H/t Akshon Esports

About the author

Sam Nordmark

Writer at @dotesports