According to prosecution lawyers, the saga began last year when Kim, who must now be referred to under his full legal title of 'disgraced Kim Jung-hwan (36)', was accused of betting and losing more than 200 million won ($185,000) at a casino in the Philippines. He later admitted that "it was one hell of a holiday". However, the authorities in Seoul, who strictly regulate the recreational activities of Koreans both inside and outside Korea, claimed that he had broken the law, since gambling is illegal for Koreans except in one designated casino called Kangwon Land, horse racing tracks, the lottery, the stock market, North Korean foreign policy, 'go-stop' games, and pretty much everywhere else.
When disgraced Kim Jung-hwan (36) failed to return to the Korean motherland for a recording of his TV show, his agency released a photo of him lying in a local hospital with what they claimed was 'breakbone fever' symptoms. At the time prosecutors said they could not be sure from the photograph what he was lying about, but when he returned to Korea doctors discovered no evidence of any bone breakages. "The nature of his crime is very bad given his actions in hiding away and gambling away a large amount of money overseas," said a prosecutor, denying the case was brought because of the disruption to TV schedules.
Law professor, 57 year-old Kim from Seoul International University, said "lawmakers should have made up a special law to deal with unpunctual TV personalities, rather than trying to apply an inconsistent Korean law overseas. Disgraced Kim Jung-hwan (36)'s conviction for gambling creates a legal argument for the closure of horse racing tracks and the Korean stock market, and may require a change in foreign policy." However, the government has denied they are gambling with North Korea, as the large amounts of money they have lost to Pyongyang are not 'bets' but 'protection money'.
The KOSPI closed down 2% as traders withdrew their money, fearing a visit from the police. Sales of lottery tickets were unchanged.
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