A disgraced South Korean television celebrity was slapped Friday with a court arrest to be jailed for eight months for repeatedly gambling abroad and refusing to return home in an attempt to elude investigation.
Shin Jung-hwan, 36, rattled the South Korean entertainment industry when media reports said last August that he had gambled away hundreds of millions of won at a hotel casino in the Philippines.
South Korea strictly regulates gambling for its citizens even though it has one casino available for locals.
Shin, a former singer whose bouncy shtick and punchlines were well received on numerous television shows, said he would accept the court ruling with a "gratifying" attitude.
Shin had already had a history of gambling problems when he returned to South Korea in January. He was booked for illegal gambling in 2005 and was sued last year for a 170 million won
(US$157,000) unpaid gambling debt that he incurred while playing games in the locals-only casino in Gangwon Province.
Police began looking into his case in September last year after a South Korean man in his 50s sued Shin for putting up his passport as collateral for his gambling debt, believed to have been borrowed from a local moneylender.
His agency initially denied the allegation by showing a photo of Shin lying in a local hospital with breakbone fever symptoms, but several media reports accused him of plotting a self-fabricated scenario to evade illegal gambling charges.