3 South Korean actresses convicted of drug abuse

3 South Korean actresses convicted of drug abuse

SEOUL - Three South Korean actresses have been handed suspended jail terms for abusing propofol, a drug blamed in the death of United States pop icon Michael Jackson, a court official said yesterday.

Park Si Yeon, Lee Seung Yeon and Jang Mi In Ae were charged in March with taking the prescription drug for "non-medical purposes". All three were found guilty by the Seoul Central District Court on Monday and received eight-month prison terms - suspended for two years.

Propofol is a powerful sedative used as a general anaesthetic. It reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation, but may cause a person to experience hallucinations.

South Korea classified the drug as a psychotropic medicine two years ago, making it illegal to prescribe or consume other than for stipulated treatments that may need anaesthesia.

Park, a top actress who has appeared in many TV shows and movies, received the so-called "milk shot", containing the creamy-coloured propofol, 185 times from February 2011 to last December.

As well as the suspended prison term, she was fined 3.7 million won (S$4,400).

Lee, a prominent actress and a TV-talk-show host, received 111 injections during the same period, and fellow actress Jang took 95 shots in 2011 and last year.

The two also received fines of 4 million won and 5.5 million won, respectively.

All three had pleaded not guilty, arguing that they had received the injections for dermatological and plastic-surgery treatments, or to relieve pain caused by illness and gruelling work schedules. It is not known whether they would appeal.

Two doctors who had been accused of prescribing the drug to the actresses were also handed suspended jail terms, community service and fines.

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