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

Hotel Shilla chief likely to be questioned in 2nd half

The police are not likely to summon Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin in the first half of this year regarding suspicions that she took an addictive drug for non-medical purposes in 2016.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said May 21 that it is now analyzing seized items after its third raid into a cosmetic clinic in Seoul, which is accused of having administered propofol to Lee for recreational purposes.

We are doing forensic work. It takes a long time, typically months. Only after finishing the job, we will determine whether or not we will summon Lee. We have yet to make any decision about Lee,” a police officer who asked not to be named told The Korea News Plus.

In other words, he noted that the police will summon Lee in the second half of this year even if they opt to do so.

Asked about the reports that Lee would face a fine or a suspended jail term even if she is found guilty, the police officer refused to comment.

The police started investigating the case after the allegation first surfaced in late March when a local news outlet reported an interview with a former nurse of the clinic at issue.

The nurse insisted that Lee took propofol for non-medical purposes at least twice a month during the first 10 months of 2016. Toward that end, she also claimed that the clinic manipulated charts.

In response, Lee admitted that she did visit the clinic but for legitimate treatment, denying any wrongdoing.

Propofol is a short-acting sedative-hypnotic agent. Because it is classified as a psychotropic drug here, it is unlawful to prescribe or consume the agent for recreational purposes.

If the propofol scandal proves to be true, accordingly, the 49-year-old billionaire businesswoman would be subject to criminal charges.

Even though she does not end up on the wrong side of the bars, then, the case is expected to undermine her image and the brand value of Hotel Shilla.

If the scandal proves to be false, the “whistle-blower” would be in big trouble.


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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.