The Dark Side of K-pop

K-pop stars get embroiled in two of the biggest scandals to date.
Thursday 14 March 2019
Big Bang star Seungri quits amid scandal. Photo: Yonhap/AFP

They’re known for their clean-cut onstage personas but a string of scandals in the industry seem to suggest that there’s more that lies underneath the surface of the innocently wholesome image of K-pop stars. On Wednesday, a member of the highly successful K-pop mega-group Big Bang, announced that he will quit the entertainment industry after reports emerged that he is being investigated on suspicion of violating South Korea’s prostitution law.

Seungri or (Lee Seung-hyun) who is the youngest member of the K-pop group, which was also the first Korean group to win the Best Worldwide Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2011, posted the announcement on his Instagram on Tuesday, “I think I’d better leave the entertainment industry at this moment,” he wrote. “I just cannot bear causing any further damage to people around me, while being hated and criticised by the public and being treated as a nation’s enemy during the investigation.”

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승리입니다 제가 이시점에서 연예계를 은퇴를하는것이 좋을거같습니다. 사회적 물의를 일으킨 사안이 너무나 커 연예계 은퇴를 결심했습니다 수사중인 사안에 있어서는 성실하게 조사를 받아 쌓인 모든 의혹을 밝히도록 하겠습니다. 지난 한달반동안 국민들로부터 질타받고 미움받고 지금 국내 모든 수사기관들이 저를 조사하고 있는 상황에서 국민역적 으로까지 몰리는 상황인데 저 하나 살자고 주변 모두에게 피해주는일은 도저히 제스스로가 용납이 안됩니다 지난 10여 년간 많은 사랑을 베풀어준 국내외 많은 팬분들께 모든 진심을 다해 감사드리며 와이지와 빅뱅 명예를 위해서라도 저는 여기까지인거같습니다 다시한번 죄송하고 또 죄송합니다 그동안 모든분들께 감사했습니다

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The 28 year-old was a board member of the notorious Gangnam-based Burning Sun club, which according to Seoul Metropolitan Police is currently facing allegations of bribery, violence against customers, securing prostitutes for VIPs, rape, drug trafficking and drug use. Last month, the club posted a statement on social media saying it was “actively cooperating” with the police. It had also promised to introduce measures to protect customers, including female security officers and extra surveillance cameras. But since then the hotel in which it is located said Burning Sun has opted to end its lease early and close.

Seungri, who oversaw the publicity for Burning Sun, resigned from the club’s board last month. Neither Seungri or his label, YG Entertainment has since responded to CNN’s request for comment, but a statement from the label said that he and its executives were cooperating with police.

According to multiple reports, Seungri apologised on stage at a concert on February 14 and canceled events in Osaka and Jakarta this month. But, in the end, those efforts were not enough to save his career. “I’m truly grateful for all my fans in Korea and in the world for showing much love for the past 10 years,” he wrote on social media. “I feel that I need to end it here for the reputation of YG and Big Bang.”

“I admit to all my crimes”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday another K-pop star admitted to secretly filming himself having sex and sharing the footage without his partner’s consent. Jung Joon-young, a 30-year-old singer who rose to fame after winning second place in one of South Korea’s top talent shows, announced his immediate retirement from showbusiness amid allegations he shot and shared sexual imagery without his partners’ consent.

“I admit to all my crimes,” he said. “I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a chatroom, and while I was doing so I didn’t feel a great sense of guilt,” he added in a statement released late Tuesday. Jung was one of three male artists in a group chat room where some members shared secretly filmed footage of a sexual nature of at least 10 women, according to local broadcaster SBS. Seungri, was also a member of the chatroom, the broadcaster said.

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머리 짜른척 🤗🤗 #past

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The scandals deliver a big blow to the K-pop industry where entertainers are expected to conform to strict requirements concerning their image and conduct from both their managements and fans. Their labels even impose restrictions on who and how publicly they can date, what they wear and how they behave in public.

Source: CNN International, AFP Relaxnews

Related: South Korea’s Biggest Companies Condone a Culture of Abuse and Violence