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[KH Explains] Tragic end to sex abuse scandal?

Sex abuse incident surrounding YouTuber and amateur photographers fuels war of words after death of key suspect

The death of a photographer at the center of a sex abuse scandal surrounding a female model has thrown the case up in the air.

The 42-year-old suspect, who is accused of coercing model and YouTuber Yang Ye-won into taking explicit photos and then leaking them, was found dead in an apparent suicide in a river in Gyeonggi Province on Thursday morning.

YouTuber and model Yang Ye-won shares her story of alleged sexual abuse. (YouTube)
YouTuber and model Yang Ye-won shares her story of alleged sexual abuse. (YouTube)
In a note found in his car by police, he claimed the investigation was not fair and that police and the media only listen to one side.

Police are to close the case following the dramatic turn of events, but online debates have heated up over the credibility of Yang’s claims.

YouTube video sparks mix of reactions

In May, YouTuber Yang took to her channel and shared her story of the alleged sexual abuse that went on while she worked as a part-time model for an online retailer in 2015.

In the video that has been watched over 7.7 million times, Yang said the photographer she worked with forced her to wear racy lingerie “you would expect in porn,” and pose for lewd pictures, some of which have been leaked online.

She also alleged that a group of 20 amateur photographers joined the session, with some groping her breasts and genitals during a photo session.

The video touched off a storm of mixed reactions, illustrated by the video’s sharply divided 100,000 likes and 93,000 dislikes.

One comment left by someone claiming to be her boyfriend urged other victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

Others stroke a different tone, calling Yang a “murderer” and accusing the YouTuber of jumping on the bandwagon of the #MeToo movement.

Several women have come forward with similar stories since police first launched the investigation into Yang’s case.

Police found the body of the suspect in a river in Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)
Police found the body of the suspect in a river in Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

Conflicting claims

The photographer is thought to have taken his life after coming under scrutiny, as he was questioned by police multiple times and another person involved in the scandal had recently been arrested.

The incident became complicated further after an exchange of private messages between the photographer who arranged the photo session and Yang was made public. In the exchange, Yang appears to ask the photographer to arrange more paid group photo sessions.

The suspect reportedly told police he felt sorry for Yang over the leaked photos, but denied any involvement in their being leaked.

The photographer had filed countersuits against Yang before death for false allegations and defamation of character.

Skeptics, however, have accused the private messages of being fabricated to give a boost to the photographer’s claims.

Popular singer and actress Suzy came under fire for publicly extending her support to Yang after the private messages were revealed in a way that added more confusion to the conflicting details and allegations.

Police have said they will continue to investigate six other suspects involved in the case.

By Yim Hyun-su (