“I will live with reflection”
The Criminal Division 5 of the Busan District Court (Chief Judge Jang Jong-seok) held a sentencing hearing for Seo Jun-won, who was charged with violating the Sexual Protection of Children and Adolescents Act (production and distribution of sexually exploitative materials) at the Busan District Court in Yeonje-gu, Busan, on March 13. Seo Jun-won was sentenced by the court to three years in prison and five years of probation.
March 23. Lotte Giants decide to release him after initial reports
On March 23, news broke about a serious crime that caused a huge ripple in the KBO as well as in society. A media outlet reported, “Seo Jun-won was arrested late last year on suspicion of kidnapping and enticing a minor. The police sent him to the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office in December, and the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office assigned the case to the Women’s and Children’s Crime Investigation Division and is conducting an investigation.” The media reported that Seo Jun-won, then a member of the Lotte Giants, committed a sex crime against a minor.
In August of last year, Seo was in contact with a minor he had met through social media and asked the victim to take and send him photos of her body, which led to a police investigation when the victim reported it. The police investigation had already been underway since late last year. However, at the time, neither the Lotte team nor the family and agency closest to the player were aware of the incident.
At the time, online community sites were filled with stories about Seo’s crimes, and he denied the allegations and lied about them. He told Lotte that he had been in and out of court because he had been “scammed” by the club over a personal matter. Without the power to investigate, Lotte was unable to verify the authenticity of Seo’s claims and had no choice but to believe him. However, a media outlet broke the story, and on the morning of March 23, Seo admitted that he had been served with a warrant.
Shortly after the news broke, Lotte officially announced Seo’s release. Lotte said, “As soon as we confirmed that Seo Jun-won was investigated by the police for criminal offenses against minors and that the case has now been transferred to the prosecution, we held a disciplinary committee. Regardless of whether or not the prosecutor’s office indicted him, the club decided to take the highest level of discipline, which is expulsion.” “We acknowledge our negligence in managing the player and will strive to strictly prevent recurrence by implementing strict gender awareness education in the future.”
Lotte CEO Lee Kang-hoon also bowed his head in recognition of Seo’s offense. “We sincerely apologize for the recent unsavory incident caused by one of our players. It is absolutely unacceptable for a professional baseball player who is supported by many fans to commit crimes against minors,” he said. “This unfortunate act against young people who love professional baseball and develop their dreams by watching players has hurt the hearts of many people.”
March 27. ‘High School Choi Dong-won Award’ revoked
After Lotte cut ties with Jun-won Seo, the Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation also made a move. The Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation announced that it has decided to revoke former Lotte Giants pitcher Seo Jun-won’s award for the ‘1st High School Choi Dong-won Award,’ with Secretary General Kang Jin-soo stating, “The board of directors and everyone involved in the organization were deeply shocked by the seriousness and inhumanity of Seo Jun-won’s behavior. The seven members of the board of directors unanimously decided to revoke the award of the 1st High School Choi Dongwon Award.”
The High School Choi Dong-won Award is given to the high school pitcher with the best performance of the year and was first awarded in November 2018. One of the first two recipients of the award was Jun-won Seo, who was a student at Gyeongnam High School. At that time, the first winner of the High School Choi Dong-won Award received a scholarship of 3 million won and Gyeongnam High School received 2 million won in support.
Secretary General Kang Jin-soo said, “In the future, when it comes to winners who have committed crimes of social disorder and felonies, we will not distinguish between the High School Choi Dong-won Award and the Choi Dong-won Award, but will discuss with the board of directors about ‘revoking the award’. If the board makes a unanimous decision, we will announce the revocation of the award without going back and forth like in the case of Seo Jun-won.”
March 28. KBO’s position statement
The KBO, which had been cautious after the news of Seo’s offense broke, also took a stand. The KBO has suspended Seo Jun-won from participation in accordance with Article 152, Paragraph 5 of the KBO Disciplinary Code. “Once the facts are confirmed by the judicial system, the KBO will hold a penalty committee to deliberate on whether to lift the suspension and the final sanction,” the organization said.
August 23. Prosecution’s 6-year sentence
At his first hearing on May 31, Seo admitted to the crime but claimed that he was unaware that the victim was a minor. The lie didn’t last long. At the June 14 hearing, Seo reversed his position and admitted that he was aware that the victim was a minor. According to the investigation, he sent her 60 sexually explicit messages and received seven photos of her body to create sexual exploitation despite knowing she was underage.
In response, the prosecution asked for six years in prison, saying that although Seo Jun-won was a first-time offender, he did not show any signs of remorse, referring to the fact that he produced sexual exploitation materials and lied about not knowing that he was a minor. In response, the defense appealed for leniency based on the fact that the case was settled and did not lead to further crimes. “I am ashamed and regretful that I tried to release the stress accumulated from strict life control and childcare in the club in a crooked way. I am truly sorry to the victim,” he said.
September 13. Sentencing hearing in court
Initially, it appeared that Seo would be sentenced to prison due to the severity of his offense. However, the court sentenced him to three years in prison and five years of probation. The court said, “The evidence shows that the defendant is guilty of all the counts of the indictment. The crime is serious in terms of the method, the target, and the extent of the damage,” but also “the duration of the crime was only one day. The fact that he did not appear to be distributing sexually explicit material, that he settled with the victim’s mother, and that he is a first-time offender.”먹튀검증
As he left the courtroom after being sentenced to probation, Seo told reporters, “Honestly, I was very scared. Now that the verdict is out, I will follow it. And from now on, I will live with a little more thought. I will live a straight and reflective life so that this will never happen again.” When asked about his feelings, he said, “My hands are still shaking and my head is complicated.”
For now, it is highly unlikely that Seo Jun-won will ever play in a professional baseball uniform. As for his future plans, he said, “I’ll make my own plans. I will fulfill my community service hours as stated in the ruling. That’s all I can think about for now.”