Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin/courtesy of Hotel Shilla

Hotel Shilla head denies wrongdoing

Hotel Shilla chief Lee Boo-jin is accused of having taken propofol, a short-acting and sedative-hypnotic agent, for non-medical purposes, according to a local news outlet. Lee instantly denied the report.

Propofol induces and maintains anesthesia. Misuse of the drug can be fatal. For example, it was blamed in the 2009 death of legendary American singer Michael Jackson.

On March 20, News Tapa reported an interview with a former employee of a cosmetic clinic in southern Seoul. The nurse with a surname of Kim said that Lee received propofol shots at least twice a month.

Kim said that the billionaire businesswoman was injected with the prescription drug for non-medical purposes. Kim said that Lee looked addicted to propofol.

Lee used the staff-only car park to take the elevator to the hospital. Then, she directly went to a VIP room where she was injected with propofol shots,” Kim said.

While I was working for the cosmetic clinic, she visited there at least twice a month. As far as I remember, she made contacts with the hospital three or four times a month.”

Kim also claimed that Lee slept eight or 10 hours at the VIP room after taking propofol shots. “After waking up, she asked for more shots first to me and later to the clinic’s head.”

In response, Lee came up with a press release where she denied the allegation. Lee admitted that she visited the clinic at issue for treatments but argued that she did not illegally take propofol.

It remains to be seen who tells the truth. If Kim’s remarks are true, however, Lee and the clinic’s chief, a plastic surgeon, might be subject to criminal charges.

Korea classified the medicine as a psychotropic medicine in 2011 as a mounting number of people have become addicted to it. Hence, it is illegal here to prescribe or consume the drug other than for specific treatments, which may need anesthesia.

However, many violations have taken place as demonstrated by the 2013 case, which involved three famous actresses.

Back then, the three including Park Si-yeon and Lee Seung-youn got suspended jail terms for abusing the drug for recreational purposes.

Lee is the eldest daughter of bed-ridden Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. She is also a younger sister of Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto leader of Korea’s biggest conglomerate.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.