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TV personality Robert Holley’s conservative background highlighted after drug admission

Robert Holley, a Mormon missionary-turned-TV personality, is facing accusations of purchasing and using unknown quantities of methamphetamine.

Since first setting foot in Korea in 1978 as a missionary for the Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, Holley has long been known and beloved here for his avuncular image, which is why his recent arrest over meth charges comes as a shock to many.

Robert Holley (Holley`s official Facebook account)
Robert Holley (Holley`s official Facebook account)

In his past TV appearances, the 58-year-old has made his conservative stance on social and political issues no secret. 

Regarding substance use in particular, he said in 2015 on a JTBC show that “when an outlawed thing becomes legal, more people want to try it,” referring to marijuana legalization in certain US states. “We all need to abide by the law. There is nothing bad that comes from keeping the law,” he said.

During the 20th legislative election in 2016, Holley explained his application for a proportional representative seat in the conservative Saenuri Party as having come from “a family of Republicans in America.”

The naturalized South Korean citizen from California was arrested at 4 p.m. Monday at a parking lot in Seoul’s westernmost district of Gangseo-gu on suspicion of violating the narcotics control act. Authorities confirmed Tuesday morning a wire transfer record of some several hundred thousand won in Holley’s account for drug transactions.

While being transferred under escort to a police station in southern Suwon, a city south of Seoul, at around 1:30 a.m. he said he “apologize(s) with a heavy heart” to the reporters present.

News broadcaster YTN reported that Holley told investigators that he had bought the drugs last month and used them last week.

Police say a urine sample provided by Holley tested positive. A further urine sample and a hair sample will be sent to the national forensics service for confirmatory analysis.

Following the arrest, TV shows scheduled to guest Holley have announced cancellation. MBC’s talk show “Radio Star” disclosed through an official statement its decision to edit Holley out of the Wednesday episode “due to the regrettable situation.”

By Kim Arin (