Three employees of the Korean Esports Association (KeSPA), including a former assistant to chief executive Jun Byung-hun, have been arrested on suspicion of bribe-taking and money-laundering, according to Seoul-Yonhap News. KeSPA, an organisation formed by the South Korean government in 2000, oversees the country’s esports industry, which includes some of the world’s best pro gaming teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, and more.
In addition to having served as the chairman of KeSPA, Jun Byung-hun is also a former government official in South Korea who served on South Korea’s parliamentary committee on broadcasting and communications. According to Yonhap News, bribery suspicions arose when KeSPA received 300 million won (or £204,612) from Lotte Home Shopping, a shopping channel in South Korea that already has a history with bribery and with falsifying documents to secure their broadcast license.
Jun Byung-hun’s assistant, as well as the other two employees, have been arrested on suspicion of embezzling Lotte Home Shopping’s contribution to the organisation. If those funds ended up in Jun Byung-hun’s hands during his time in political office, that could constitute a bribe, given that Jun had influence over South Korea’s broadcasting committee at that time.
Jun has become quite popular with video game fans over the course of his political career, since he often advocated for the growth of the esports industry. Jun did close down KeSPA’s StarCraft II ProLeague last year, citing match-fixing scandals as one of the reasons. Jun Byung-hun has a reputation as somewhat of a esports reformer, so a bribery story with him at the center would be a massive scandal.
Jun Byung-hun denied the claims in a statement to Yonhap News, saying, “I was never involved in any illegality in connection with the Lotte Homeshopping case reported in the press. I’m truly dumbfounded.”