[Newsmaker] IT entrepreneur says will quit following abuse scandal

By Catherine Chung

Police expand probe into assault allegations against chairman Yang

  • Published : Nov 1, 2018 - 14:47
  • Updated : Nov 1, 2018 - 17:37

Yang Jin-ho, the chairman of file-sharing platform WeDisk and Hankook Mirae Technology, on Thursday delivered an “apology letter” via Facebook to the many victims that he “may have hurt,” adding on that he was willing to resign from his executive position at the company in light of abuse allegations.

Korea’s police special crimes unit on Wednesday announced that it had taken over investigations into Yang, 47, after an independent media outlet revealed footage of Yang brutally beating and insulting his employees.

The venture chief has been taken into police custody on assault charges. Authorities said they plan to launch a joint probe with a separate cybercrimes unit into Yang and his two firms. 

Video footage seemingly shows Yang Jin-ho assaulting a male employee at an office. (Captured from YouTube)

In one of the videos released by Newstapa, Yang was seen shooting a live chicken with a crossbow and forcing an employee to do the same at a company workshop in Hongcheon-gun, Gangwon Province, in 2016.

When the employees missed the target, he started directing insults at them while telling other employees to go and kill the chicken with a sword. Some male employees also alleged the chairman had threatened to fire them if they did not dye their hair red or green.

Police on Wednesday said they would also seek animal abuse charges against Yang following the video’s release. 

Yang Jin-ho, chairman of Hankook Mirae Technology, poses on Dec. 28, 2016. (Yonhap)

Other footage posted Tuesday showed Yang yelling, cursing and slapping an employee in the face and beating him on the head at an office in Gyeonggi Province. He then forced the employee to kneel down and apologize while threatening to kill him. The incident was reported to have occurred on April 8, 2015.

“Yang had asked another employee to film the whole incident for ‘personal, entertainment purposes,’” an employee was quoted as saying.

The victim has long since left the company and reportedly suffers from trauma due to the incident. He claimed the chairman called him to the office to apologize for making a “nasty comment about the company.”

“They called me (out of nowhere) and accused me of libel. And said they tracked down the IP address to my residence. When I went to the office, the chairman attacked me (like that),” the victim said while referring to the video footage. 

Video footage seemingly shows Yang Jin-ho assaulting a male employee at an office. (Captured from YouTube)

According to the Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency, authorities had already been looking into Yang’s suspected involvement in allowing the circulation of illicit content on WeDisk. Police raided the company’s office and Yang’s residence on Sept. 7.

The recent allegations of abuse add to a number of cases involving powerful businesspeople committing unfair acts, locally known as “gapjil.” Earlier this year, the founding family of the group that owns Korean Air came under fire after the wife and daughters of Chairman Cho Yang-ho were accused of physically and verbally abusing staff members.

By Catherine Chung (