A photographer involved in the high-profile sex abuse scandal surrounding a female model in South Korea died in an apparent suicide, leaving the case with more unanswered questions.
Popular YouTuber and model Yang Ye-won had earlier accused the 42-year-old suspect, who ran a photo studio, of coercing her into taking explicit photos and then leaking them.
Authorities found his body in a river in Gyeonggi Province on Thursday morning, with a note discovered in his car claiming that the investigation had not been fair to him. The suspect also accused the police and media of only listening to one side, according to the Korea Herald.
While his death may lead to an early closure of the case, netizens continue to have some heated debates online over the credibility of the victim’s claims.
Back in May, Yang posted a video on her channel in which she shared her story of the alleged sexual abuse that happened during her stint as a part-time model for an online retailer in 2015.
According to Yang, the photographer forced her to wear racy lingerie “you would expect in porn,” and made her do lewd poses for photos which have been leaked online. She further alleged that during the photo session, 20 amateur photographers joined and groped her breasts and genitals.
The video, which has since been watched more than 7.7 million times, ignited varied reactions online, earning 100,000 likes and 93,000 dislikes. Those who supported her praised her for her bravery, while others who doubted her story accused her of merely jumping on the bandwagon of the #MeToo movement.
Since police began their investigation, several women have come forward with similar stories.
The photographer, who was reportedly questioned by investigators multiple times, is believed to have taken his own life after coming under scrutiny. Another person involved in the scandal was also arrested recently.
Public perception became further divided when the private messages between the photographer and Yang were made public. The exchange shows that Yang appeared to be asking the photographer to arrange more paid group photo sessions.
However, some have cast doubt over the validity of the private messages, branding them of being fabricated.
In an interview following the release of the messages, Yang said she sounded compliant in the messages because she simply had no choice as she didn’t want to upset the studio staff that already had her nude photographs to use against her.
“Anything that may be a disadvantage to be on record, they called to discuss,” Yang was quoted as saying. “The text messages sound compliant because they kept threatening me by saying, ‘We have your pictures, so be smart.’ I feared the pictures will leak, so I didn’t want to upset them in any way. But I never allowed them to touch me or agreed to wear certain costumes. I’d be crazy to ‘agree’ to have such things to happen to myself.”
Before his death, the photographer filed counter lawsuits against Yang for false allegations and defamation of character. While the suspect told investigators he was sorry for the leaked photos, he denied any involvement in them being put online.
Six other suspects involved in the case are still under investigation.
Featured Image via YouTube / 비글커플