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Porn baron paid by spycam victims, police say

Nov 17,2018
Korea Future Technology Chairman Yang Jin-ho is transported to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday. [YONHAP]
An executive accused of abusing employees and chickens was at the center of a massive porn distribution network that circulated tens of thousands of videos, the police confirmed as they announced the results of an investigation Friday.

Yang Jin-ho, chairman of Korea Future Technology, ran an intricate web of online file sharing companies, all aimed at distributing pornography. He personally oversaw 61 “heavy uploaders” - people who upload a great amount of content to the sites. He is alleged to have made a fortune of around 7 billion won ($6.2 million) from this process, said Chung Jin-gwan, chief of cybersecurity at the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency in Seongnam.

Yang was arrested Nov. 7 on charges of assault and coercion.

Users of Wedisk and Filenori - the file sharing systems that had combined revenues of 55 billion won this year - were ranked in three tiers based on the amount of pornography they uploaded, and the most active of these were given significant financial incentives, police said. One particular heavy uploader made at least 200 million won a year.

Of the 52,000 videos confirmed by police as having been distributed, at least 100 videos were revenge porn or spycam footage - material at the center of a nationwide crackdown on online sexual assault. Yang found a novel means to make money off of such material: being paid money from victims to take the videos offline, police said.

Yang maintained communication with “heavy uploaders” using burner phones, police said, and counseled them to create new online IDs any time government monitors flagged one of their accounts.

Police appear to have taken their probe of Yang as an opportunity to crack down on various channels of porn distribution on the internet in Korea. In addition to the 80 affiliated to Yang, police said they have booked 160 further suspects tied to other file sharing systems on similar charges and plan to investigate each of them.

Bound with rope and held by officers on both sides, the disgraced executive was transferred to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday after police finalized their investigation. They recommended he be indicted on ten separate charges including tax evasion and embezzlement. Police said they verified that Yang’s withdrawal of 280 million won from Wedisk’s corporate account last March to buy an expensive art piece is behind the embezzlement charge.

While the charges related to porn distribution are the most serious allegations against him, Yang’s reputation in the press revolves around his abuse of employees, chickens and drugs. Earlier this month, Newstapa, a media outlet run by the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism, released footage of him physically assaulting a former employee and making other employees kill chickens with a bow and arrow and a Japanese sword.

Police said they will further question a number of employees at Yang’s companies who allege their boss spied on them by tapping their phones. According to a report by Newstapa this week, Yang forced his employees to install a chat message application on their phones which contained malware that allowed him to monitor their activities.

New testimonials also emerged from the police probe that Yang allegedly sexually abused a woman at one of his numerous residences. Though police have not elaborated on the matter to protect the alleged victim’s identity, they have added a rape charge to their recommendations to prosecutors.

Yang is also accused of consuming copious amounts of illegal substances including marijuana and methamphetamine. Police said Yang smoked marijuana with eight other workers when he ordered the filming of the chicken killing at a company retreat in the autumn of 2015.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]