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Photos fencer's con artist ex-fiance used to fool victims

Ex-boyfriend of Olympic medalist posed with bodyguards in photos to back claims he had a wealthy background

Oct. 27, 2023 - 20:56 By Kim So-hyun
Jeon Cheong-jo sitting at a cafe table next to two men he apparently hired to pose as bodyguards. (Kim Min-seok)

Jeon Cheong-jo, the con artist whose bizarre stories shook up South Korea this week, had used photographs of himself surrounded by bodyguards to trick his victims into believing that he belonged to a high-profile chaebol family, a local district councilor told The Korea Herald on Friday.

Two days after Olympic fencing medalist Nam Hyun-hee announced on Monday that she would marry Jeon in January, a local celebrity news outlet disclosed court verdicts that showed Jeon had been sentenced to jail terms for fraud and extortion on multiple occasions.

The outlet "Dispatch" reported that Jeon extorted at least 300 million won from seven people, posing as a woman to some and as a man to others. Police reported that Jeon had a woman's national ID number, but Nam said Thursday that she knew Jeon had undergone sex reassignment surgery.

On Friday, photos that Jeon allegedly used to deceive his victims were released by a local district councilor. Kim Min-seok, a member of the Gangseo-gu District Council in Seoul, said he planned to file a complaint against Jeon with the police, based on reports he received from Jeon's other victims.

In the photos, Jeon, clad in a suit with an ankle tattoo showing, can be seen posing inside a limousine; sitting at an outdoor table surrounded by men who look like bodyguards; or walking with an entourage of men in black suits.

Jeon sits inside a limousine. (Kim Min-seok)
Jeon walking with men who appear to be posing as bodyguards. (Kim Min-seok)

Following the Dispatch report and news on multiple online posts about Jeon's other victims Wednesday, Nam initially said she would take legal action against people who spread false rumors about her fiance.

But on Thursday morning, she reported Jeon to the police for stalking. Jeon was arrested after pounding on the door of Nam's mother's house in Seongnam, where Nam was staying. He was released shortly afterward.

Nam, who became the first South Korean woman to win a fencing Olympic medal by winning silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said in a media interview that she learned Wednesday that her boyfriend had swindled money from her acquaintances, and that she was deceived by him.