Kpop News

Singer Kim Ho Joong changes defense team as he faces trial for drunk hit-and-run and other charges

On July 10 at 2:30 PM KST, the Seoul Central District Court will hold the first trial for singer Kim Ho Joong, who has been indicted on charges of causing injury while driving under the influence and fleeing the scene, as well as abetting a suspect to evade arrest and evidence tampering.

Three others, including Lee Kwang Deuk, the CEO of Think Entertainment, an executive identified as Jeon, and manager Jang, will also face trial for charges including aiding a suspect and evidence destruction. Ahead of the trial, Lee and Jeon submitted letters of reflection to the court.

Kim Ho Joong is accused of hitting an oncoming taxi with his car and fleeing the scene in the Gangnam district of Seoul on the night of May 9. About two hours after the accident, his manager, wearing Kim Ho Joong’s clothes, turned himself in to the police claiming to be the driver. Kim Ho Joong ignored police contacts until he finally appeared 17 hours later, initially denying that he had been drinking.

Despite suspicions of drunk driving and switching drivers, Kim Ho Joong’s agency denied the allegations, and Kim Ho Joong went ahead with his concert schedule. However, CCTV footage later revealed evidence of his drinking, leading Kim to admit to drunk driving on May 19, ten days after the incident. He was subsequently arrested on June 24.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office charged Kim Ho Joong with causing injury while driving under the influence and fleeing the scene, failing to take measures after an accident, and aiding a suspect to evade arrest, but did not include the charge of drunk driving.

Witnesses and CCTV footage indicated that Kim Ho Joong had consumed more than three bottles of soju before the accident. The police used the Widmark formula, which calculates blood alcohol concentration, based on testimonies and evidence.

However, after a thorough review, the prosecution concluded that it was difficult to precisely determine Kim’s blood alcohol level at the time of the incident, so they did not charge him with drunk driving.

Kim assembled a high-profile defense team during the investigation, which drew public attention. However, prominent attorneys, including former Acting Prosecutor General Cho Nam Kwan and lawyer Lee Ho Seon, hired by Kim Ho Joong’s father, resigned before the trial, stating that their agreement was only to represent Kim during the investigation phase. Of the original six lawyers, only one remained, and two new lawyers joined the defense team on July 5 KST.