Kang Byung-kyu, host of KBS’ popular variety show “Vitamine,” has admitted to illegal internet gambling.
But he claims that he did not know internet gambling was illegal.
Kang, 36, had initially denied gambling on an internet site that broadcasted Baccarat through a live online feed from the Philippines. But after prosecutors traced a paper trail leading to the baseball player turned presenter, Kang admitted to the charges.
He said that because the Philippine government permitted online gambling, he did not question the legitimacy of the site or his involvement.
He is reported to have gambled some 1.6 billion won ($1.1 million), with losses of 400 million won.
“Kang has accepted and admitted all allegations of his involvement with the illegal gambling activities,” said the Seoul Metropolitan Police narcotics and organized crime unit.
Prosecutors are now considering seeking an arrest warrant for the TV presenter.
Earlier on he and his management had denied all accusations and charges, with Kang even saying, “I do not know how to gamble.”
Kang is one of 130 illegal gamblers being charged for involvement with the gambling site.
According to prosecutors, his use of his real name in his account with the site may help his case. Most illegal gamblers use aliases and dummy accounts to cover up the trail leading back to them. Since Kang did not conceal his activity, they say, this could support his claim that he did not know the illegitimate nature of his activity.
Kang was in the news earlier this year. He was accused of wasting government money as the head of a group of Korean celebrities that went to the Beijing Olympics to form a cheer squad in support of Korean athletes.
The 40 participating celebrities took advantage of the unlimited expenses provided by the Culture Ministry, racking up a bill of 210 million won in 10 days, staying at five-star hotels and flying first class.
Kang hosted “Vitamine” for 6 seasons since 2002, but KBS has reported they are looking for a replacement.
The broadcaster denied that they were searching for the replacement because of the recent controversy surrounding Kang. Instead, the company said the decision to replace Kang was due to differences over pay.