A South Korean business tycoon has denied accusations that he kicked, punched and used a steel pipe to attack bar workers after his son was injured in a fight, police said Monday.
Seoul police official Jang Hee-gon announced the interim findings of a probe into the claims against one of the country’s richest men.
Police questioned Hanwha Group Chairman and CEO Kim Seung-youn for about 10 hours until early Monday over allegations that he ordered and participated in the abduction and beatings last month of bar workers allegedly involved in a scuffle with his 22-year-old son on March 8.
Jang said police would determine whether to seek an arrest warrant for Kim, 55, after further investigation, including questioning of his son, Kim Dong-won.
The younger Kim, a student at Yale University, reportedly suffered an injury that required 11 stitches in the scuffle at a karaoke bar.
Victims told police that the elder Kim and his bodyguards took them to a mountainous area south of Seoul, where Kim himself allegedly assaulted them, including hitting one of them on the back with a 5-foot steel pipe, police said in a statement.
They told police that Kim later sought out another man at a bar in central Seoul and had his son beat him, the police statement said.
Upon arrival at the police station Sunday for questioning, Kim told reporters that he apologized for “causing trouble over a personal issue.”
The allegations surfaced late last week as the alleged victims began to speak out.
For some, the stuff of gangster movies
The details of the case, which local media have likened to something out of a gangster movie, have drawn intense interest in South Korea, where the heads of family controlled conglomerates wield tremendous economic, political and social clout.
Hanwha was established in 1952 as the Korea Explosives Corp. It later developed interests in petrochemicals, finance, insurance, construction and retail. It also owns the Hanwha Eagles professional baseball team.
Kim, South Korea’s 10th-richest man, is worth about 812.3 billion won ($872 million), according to Chaebul.com, a Web site that tracks the fortunes of the conglomerate chiefs and their families.
Police have prohibited the elder Kim from leaving the country after his son went to China.
The younger Kim arrived back in South Korea on Monday. Yonhap news agency reported that he went to a Seoul police station to be questioned.
Share prices in Hanwha Group companies closed mixed Monday.
Hanwha Corp. rose 3 percent to 44,800 won ($48), while Hanwha Chemical Corp. fell 0.6 percent to 15,800 won ($17).