Larger versions of Seungri’s Tinder ads will be displayed in Gangnam and Suseo stations, among other locations, beginning Thursday. (YG Entertainment via The Korea Herald/File)
Seungri, the youngest member of BigBang and the latest headline generator of YG Entertainment, expressed his willingness Wednesday to fully cooperate with the police investigation into the allegations surrounding him -- ranging from drugs, to police corruption and brokering prostitution.
“Seungri has told us that he is truly sorry to everyone for all the issues that had been caused by him in the past month, and said he wishes to appear before the investigators as soon as possible to take drug tests and other related measures needed in the investigation,” YG said in an official statement.
The agency said it agreed with him and vowed to contact the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s special crime unit to deliver his message.
The 28-year-old K-pop megastar has had a myriad of accusations raised against him in the past month, which were triggered by report accusing police of wrongfully beating a customer at the Burning Sun nightclub in Gangnam. The singer was an executive director at the time of the alleged assault.
Some of the allegations that have been raised include the use of date-rape drug at the club, bribes to police -- which was linked to why the cops beat up the supposed victim in the aforementioned case, although it is yet unclear who is telling the truth -- and the recent revelation that Seungri may have ordered his employees to procure sexual favors for his investors.
YG has denied that Seungri used drugs, although it did not comment on drug use by others in the club. The Korean law deals with substance abuse with a firm hand. Sale, solicitation, use, possession, temporary possession, dispensing, or providing drugs in any way can be punished with up to 10 years in prison or a 100 million won ($89,000) fine.
Although YG remains adamant that the accusation of sexual bribery is entirely false, claiming that the text messages that appeared in a recent media report have been fabricated, its reputation pre-Seungri scandal had been far from unscathed.
In 2014, Seungri made headlines by crashing his Porche into a Mercedez Benz, injuring the driver of the Mercedez and himself along with damage to both vehicles. It happened four years after his bandmate Daesung was involved in a car crash, which was initially thought to have caused a person's death.
The police later said it will not link the said death to the singer’s accident, as it was possible that the victim -- who was found to have had already crashed into a lamppost prior to the accident -- had died before being hit by Daesung’s car. As it is impossible to determine for sure that Daesung’s accident had caused the victim’s death, the related charges were dropped and he was only charged with failing to maintain a safe distance with other vehicles -- given that other cars that passed the scene before the singer were able to avoid hitting the victim.
Other members of the boyband have also made headlines.
In 2017, T.O.P was given a suspended jail term for marijuana use. He was stripped of his status as a conscripted policeman -- all able-bodied Korean men are mandated to serve in the military or other alternative state organizations for roughly two years -- after the sentence.
G-Dragon, the leader and the most popular member of the group, was found to have smoked marijuana in a police investigation that took place after an anonymous tip-off. The artist claimed to have mistaken the drug for a cigarette, and the investigators closed the case with a suspension of indictment.
The BigBang members were not YG’s only troublemakers, as Park Bom of now-disbanded 2NE1 was accused in 2010 of smuggling amphetamine pills through international post. The case was dismissed without indictment after the singer claimed that she was unaware that the pills -- available on prescription in the US -- were illegal here and that she intended to take them for medical purposes.
Another drug-related incident occurred in late 2017 when YG’s rapper and producer Kush was booked by police for purchase and use of cocaine. He is currently undergoing trial and is slated to appear in court on March 4.
The parade of incidents have led to the online joke that YG stands for “Yak Guk,” which means drug store in Korea.
The string of allegations brewing around YG has exacerbated the already dicey public opinion against the agency, with some filing an online petition to Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office, requesting an investigation into all allegations surrounding YG.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the most popular petition on the related subject had collected some 200 signatures. An online petition that was filed about the supposed victim of the assault case at the Burning Sun club, requesting a formal investigation on the police bribery allegation has garnered over 310,000 signatures.
The presidential office is expected to issue an official response to the petition, as it is mandated to do so when a petition receives 200,000 or more signatures.