Court upholds sentence for singer Eru for drunk driving

Singer Eru, whose real name is Cho Sung-hyun, arrives at a court in Mapo District, western Seoul, for his appeals hearing on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

Seoul’s appeals court on Tuesday upheld singer Eru’s sentence for driving under the influence and for aiding and abetting drunk driving.

The appeals court stood by the initial ruling made in June that handed down a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and a fine of 100,000 won ($75). Prosecutors sought one year in prison and a fine of 100,000 won for the singer, and appealed the initial ruling.

“Considering that nothing has changed from the conditions laid out in the first trial sentencing, and that the defendant has no criminal record and regrets his actions, it does not seem that the original sentence is too light to be considered unfair,” court officials said at the ruling on Tuesday.

The singer, whose real name is Cho Sung-hyun, was caught by police while driving after drinking in a restaurant in Yongsan District, central Seoul, in September 2022. He was accused of attempting to cover up his crime by having the passenger, a female professional golfer, claim that she was the one driving, but was booked for aiding and abetting drunk driving instead of concealment of wrongdoing.

He was also investigated for crashing an acquaintance’s car into a guard rail on Seoul's Gangbyeon Expressway in December 2022, three months after the first incident. He was driving at a speed of 180 kilometers per hour (112 miles per hour), exceeding the speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour, and his blood alcohol content was reportedly 0.075 percent at the time of the crash, a level high enough to have his driver’s license suspended. Earlier the same day, the singer had given his car keys to a different acquaintance, with whom he had consumed alcohol, and made them drive his car.

At the first hearing of the appeal, prosecutors sought a longer prison sentence for Eru.

“The defendant has aided and abetted drunk driving, which is a serious crime that disturbs the judicial order, and caused considerable disruption in the investigation,” they said.

The singer's defense team asked the court to take into account that “Eru elevated the nation’s prestige as leading figure of the Korean Wave in Indonesia, and has had a strong social presence through his acting career."

"There is little risk of the defendant repeating his crimes," they said, adding that “the defendant’s mother, who is suffering from severe dementia for five years, requires his care."

Eru is the son of veteran trot singer Tae Jin-ah. He made his debut as a singer in 2005 and has been especially active in Indonesia, where he gained popularity with “Black Glasses (feat. Day Light)” (2006). He has also worked as an actor since 2017.