Currently, the Korean Esports Association is appearing in the news along with allegations of bribery and embezzlement. Three people have been arrested and one person has been charged. One name that is most commonly seen is former President of KeSPA and former political aide to the president of South Korea, Jun Byung Hun. The reason why is related to his time as President of the organization. It should be noted that during his tenure he was also seated on the nation’s broadcasting and communications committee. Here are all the details that we currently know about what is going on.
Korean Esports association
KeSPA was created in order to overwatch the esports scene in South Korea and to make it an official sporting event. This was created after receiving approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism back in 2000. It was their job to make sure that esports became a more professional sport, one way was by making sure players were getting paid a competitive salary compared to traditional sports.
They were also known for stepping in when allegations of match-fixing were found to be true in the StarCraft scene, or when teams such as Longzhu Gaming allegedly failed to pay past players. They were at one point part of the Korean Olympic Committee where they pushed for esports to be part of the Olympics. After October they were no longer considered an official member due to several new rules put in place.
Back in 2015 Lotte Homeshopping, the largest department store in South Korea, sent a payment of $300,000 to KeSPA right before the company went to renew its broadcasting license. The money was allegedly removed by two aides under Jun then family members of the former chairman started receiving large amounts of shopping vouchers from Lotte Homeshopping. The renewal process ended up failing in 2016 when it was found that Lotte Homeshopping had falsified information, this led to their chief being arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison. News of the payment to KeSPA did not spread until this year of November when KeSPA offices were raided by police forces.
The second allegation towards Jun was levied by Yeo Myung-Sook, the director of the games rating broad, who alleged that Jun was the “root of the corruption.” This allegation is related to the fact that Jun had major pull in the game industry and was criticized for not doing enough to regulate microtransactions, despite other elected officials voicing their concern. Now recurring payments by four major companies to KeSPA during the time Jun served are being looked up to see if there was anything illegal.
Right now the prosecution office has issued an arrest warrant for Jun and the public will most likely to see him stand trial. Corruption is a big deal in South Korea to the point that they got rid of their last President for it. Most of the charges are stemming from the first allegation, but the public shouldn’t be shocked if more comes to light and more people are arrested.
For KeSPA, everything relating to sponsorships will be gone through with a fine tooth comb such as the second season of the KeSPA cup which was sponsored by Lotte Homeshopping. This shouldn’t negatively impact esports too much other than the fact that the scene is losing someone who championed it to be considered more serious. Esports has seen scandal from match-fixing to issues with money before and this in honestly will not be the last time.
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Cover photo by Jun Byung-Hun via Twitter