Drinking responsibly is always important, and it seems like SHINee‘s Onew has had to learn that the hard way.
According to a report from Channel A in Korea, Onew was taken into police custody on July 12th after being accused of inappropriately touching a woman while at a club. Investigation later revealed that Onew was actually very drunk during the event and, according to eye witnesses, was stumbling around and bumped into several people. At this time, he reached out to steady himself and came into contact with the legs of a woman who was dancing on an elevated stage. She got angry at Onew, but his friend apologized and asked her to forgive Onew since he was barely able to stand on his own.
The woman was initially going to press charges for sexual assault and called the police. However, Onew was too intoxicated at the time to even respond to the police officer’s questions.
The woman, the man who accompanied her, several witnesses, and Onew were all questioned by police the next day for over five hours. It was reported that Onew was totally unaware of the incident the next day due to being so intoxicated the night before when celebrating with friends. After seeing the state of Onew during that time and realizing it was something that could happen under that level of intoxication, the woman decided to drop charges against Onew. However, the investigation still has to be finished before it can officially be closed.
SM Entertainment later went on to release a statement, saying that Onew was reflecting on the incident that his behavior had brought about:
“This is SM Entertainment. We would like to express our position on the incident reported earlier today in the media.
As a public figure, Onew is reflecting deeply on the anxiety and concern he has caused to many people with the unpleasant reports made about him.
Onew went to a club on August 12th in order to congratulate a friend who made their debut as a DJ. Due to his intoxicated state, Onew unintentionally came into physical contact with those around him, causing a misunderstanding.
However, the other party has acknowledged that the incident was something that can happen because of intoxication, and dropped all charges against Onew. Onew will faithfully cooperate during the remaining investigation.
However, we ask that people (media) refrain from reporting and speculating about the incident since without the full details and information, this can be very damaging to Onew and his image.
We apologize once again for any anxiety or concern this incident may have caused.”
It seems like an unfortunate incident that could have been avoided if the parties involved had not been so intoxicated, but hopefully this will be a lesson learned about responsible drinking.
UPDATED: On August 14th, the police department decided to forward Onew’s case to prosecutors with recommendation of charging him. The reason for this decision (as stated by police) is the fact that the after settling with SM Entertainment on Onew’s behalf and signing official documents that she did not want to press charges, the women who had been touched by Onew told police that she still felt like she had been harassed. As such, it was their duty to proceed and forward it to the prosecutor’s office despite the fact that she agreed to settle with SM.
Per the law in South Korea, sexual harassment is pressuring or petitioning someone for sexual favors, making unwelcome sexual advances, and making derogatory remarks or committing derogatory behavior based on someone’s gender. In the case that a physical action happens without sexual intent (such as accidentally touching someone), people can still be prosecuted. However, in cases such as these, the alleged victim must prove that the average person would also have felt sexually harassed in the same situation. If not, the prosecution will not move forward and/or the case can be thrown out of court. In other words, just because an event happens that makes you feel harassed, this does not mean sexual harassment actually happened by legal definition. In order to prosecute someone, the victim must prove that the average person would have also felt harassed if they had been in the exact same situation.
A famous example of this in South Korea is when two women went drinking with their co-workers and their boss had them pour drinks. They argued that they felt sexually harassed and targeted due to their gender. However, the judge ruled against them since the average women would not have felt harassed in the same situation (the argument being that juniors are expected to pour drinks for seniors as per the traditions and accepted culture in South Korea and therefore the average person wouldn’t have been offended or felt harassed).
So, despite being forwarded to prosecution, this does not necessarily mean they will decide to prosecute Onew. However, when a person states that they felt harassed, the police then have the responsibility to forward the case to the prosecutors and allow them to decide how to proceed.
As always, WTK likes to wait for the full details of an event to avoid unfounded rumors, speculation, and false news. Now that the official details are fully available, we have decided to publish the story as listed above. We believe in being the most accurate news source available for English-speaking fans, even if it means waiting until the details of the story are confirmed.