South Korean YouTuber Tzuyang says she was victim of dating violence

By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean YouTuber Tzuyang was a victim of dating violence for years, she said on Thursday, stoking a bitter debate over a rise in gender-based violence in the country.

With over 10 million subscribers, Tzuyang has become famous for "mukbang" videos that show her eating an extraordinary amount of food or unusual dishes.

On Thursday she shocked her fans by telling them her former boyfriend physically beat her and sought to extort money from her.

Criminal cases had been filed against Tzuyang's former boyfriend but the cases were closed after he took his own life, her lawyers said in a statement on YouTube.

"(He) hit my body because it would be too obvious in the face," Tzuyang said in a livestream in the early hours of Thursday that has had more than 2 million views.

She also accused her former boyfriend of extorting money, which her lawyers during the livestream said amounted to 4 billion won ($2.9 million), as well as sharing details of her private life with YouTubers.

Nearly 14,000 people were charged for dating violence in 2023 in South Korea, according to police data, up over 50% from 8,951 in 2020, although only a small number of those were arrested.

Activists have called on lawmakers to strengthen punishment and better protect victims.

In 2022, a South Korean streamer known as Jammi, took her own life after becoming the target of cyber-bullying and rumours spread by "cyberwreckers", or YouTubers who capitalise on sensational topics in South Korea. They have been accused of amplifying false or misleading information.

($1 = 1,379.6800 won)

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; editing by Barbara Lewis)