Cable News Anchor in Assault Investigation

Jay Yim, Jan. 25, 2019, 9:27 a.m.

Police are investigating assault allegations against Sohn Suk-hee, the chief and main anchor of cable channel JTBC.

Police said Thursday they received a report from a former newspaper reporter identified as Kim that Sohn, one of the most famous news anchors in Korea, punched him in the face twice while the two were drinking in a bar.

Kim, who now works as a freelance journalist, submitted medical records to support his claim. A police investigator said, "We have asked Sohn to appear for questioning."

Kim told police that Sohn offered him a job in April 2017 when he was investigating a hit-and-run accident the JTBC chief was involved in. Kim also claimed that Sohn verbally threatened him. He said the two met in the bar on Thursday to discuss the job offer.

But Sohn claims that Kim asked him for a job at JTBC and then tried to blackmail him after being turned down. "I merely told him to behave himself and tapped him a few times," he added. Sohn has also filed blackmail charges against Kim.

Kim claims that Sohn caused a car accident in Gwacheon south of Seoul back in 2017 and allegedly tried to dissuade Kim from reporting the incident by offering him a job and harassing him for five months.

According to an e-mail Kim sent to the Chosun Ilbo, Sohn caused a fender bender in a parking lot in Gwacheon while driving a company car at night. "Sohn fled the scene of the accident and the victim chased after him," he wrote. "Sohn eventually stopped his car by the side of the road and the situation was resolved after police arrived."

Kim claimed he met Sohn last August to interview him about the accident. "He explained the accident to me, but I could not understand his excuse," Kim said and claims Sohn then offered him a job at JTBC. He claims the two exchanged many text messages since then about the prospective job.

But Sohn in a statement said he met Kim four years ago after Kim contacted him about a possible news item.

"I caused a minor dent on a tow truck while reversing in a parking lot," Sohn said. "The damage to the truck was so minimal that I was unaware that there had been any and left the parking lot, but the truck driver followed me and demanded compensation, so I paid for the damage with my own money."

"Kim came to me and threatened to report the incident and blatantly asked me for a job. He made the same demand [at the bar on Jan. 10] and became enraged when I refused."

JTBC issued a statement saying it respects Sohn's position and expressed hope that the truth will be revealed. Sohn anchored Thursday evening's news as usual.

"I also have many things to say, but will only state at this point that [the claims] are totally false," he said. He pledged to continue anchoring the nightly news and wait until police wrap up their investigation.

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