Innocent or not, Park Yoochun should quit

If Park Yoochun had any sense of decency, or if he felt a modicum of shame, he'd know that the best thing to do now would be to quit his K-pop boy band JYJ.

Earlier this month, the 30-year-old singer-actor was accused of sexual assault by four women, in what is turning out to be one of South Korea's most shocking showbiz scandals of all time.

Enraged Korean netizens have called Park a "rapist" and compared him to disgraced US comedian Bill Cosby. The number of women accusing the latter of sexual abuse stands at a staggering 58.

In Park's case, investigations are ongoing and we shouldn't jump the gun to hand him a guilty sentence before criminal charges are filed.

But whether Park is guilty or not, his pop star journey is finished.

Even if he is found to be innocent, his clean-cut image has already been tarnished by lurid details of his secret, promiscuous lifestyle.

Here is a K-pop idol who visits seedy nightclubs, karaoke joints and bars.

Going by similarities in the four women's allegations - all of them accused Park of raping them in restrooms - Park also probably has a serious fetish for bathroom sex.

Such revelations are damaging in an industry known for its perfectly-packaged poster boys and girls.

JYJ, a popular all-male trio, are on hiatus due to Park and teammate Jaejoong's mandatory military service. The third member, Junsu, goes by the solo stage name of XIA.

I cannot imagine JYJ bouncing back after these rape allegations, not with Park still in the trio.

This scandal, like a stubborn stain, will live on as a part of his tainted reputation. It is terribly unfair that Jaejoong and Junsu have to bear the burden of it too.

Park should make the wise, responsible decision of leaving JYJ as soon as possible.

I don't think it's the end of his acting career though. As we know, actors in South Korea are given greater leeway to make mistakes.

Remember how Lee Byung Hun emerged unscathed from his infamous blackmail scandal in 2014?

Back then, two female artists attempted to blackmail the A-list star by threatening to release a video of him making sexual, lewd comments during a drinking session. The women got suspended jail sentences while nothing happened to Lee, whose actress-wife Lee Min Jung stood by him throughout.

Producers of Park's upcoming movie thriller Lucid Dream have already told Korean media that "the production process" will not be halted "until the final verdict is out".

Time for Park to make his transformation from perfect pop idol to flawed actor.

This article was first published on June 29, 2016.
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