Seungri, a member of the mega-popular K-pop boy band BIGBANG, was booked Sunday during a police raid at a nightclub he runs in Seoul, following allegations that he supplied “drug-addled” women for clients to have sex with for money. The charges carry a sentence of three years. The following day, Seungri announced on Instagram that he would be departing from BIGBANG and leaving the Korean entertainment industry as a whole. “At this point, I think it would be best if I retire from the entertainment industry,” he wrote, in a translation via Billboard. “I decided on retiring from the entertainment industry as the issues that I caused a societal disturbance with are too major. Regarding the issues that are being investigated, I will be investigated diligently and reveal all the suspicions.”
According to Variety, last month, a journalist acquired texts dating back to 2015 in which Seungri discussed “supplying prostitutes to potential investors at the club and his Yuri Holdings company.” Seungri denied the allegations, claiming that the reporter fabricated them, but a handful of his concert dates were canceled and his passport was confiscated as a result. The singer is scheduled to enlist in South Korea’s mandatory military service (of which BIGBANG’s Taeyang, Daesung and G-Dragon are currently enrolled) in two weeks, but it is likely to be delayed because of the crimes, which he has continuously denied.
But the investigation has uncovered further allegations that have reverberated across the K-pop world. On Tuesday, Korean singer-songwriter and T.V. celebrity Jung Joon Young admitted to filming women in sexual situations without their consent and proliferating those videos to others, crimes that came to light during the probe into Seungri. According to Yonhap, a Korean news organization, Seoul police uncovered evidence that suggests Jung recorded the videos between 2015 and 2016, and with at least 10 women.
He released the following statement, via Billboard, adding that he will fully cooperate in a police investigation:
“I admit to all my crimes. I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a social media chatroom, and while I did so I didn’t feel a great sense of guilt...
More than anything, I kneel and apologize to the women who appear in the videos who have learned of this hideous truth as the incident has come to light, and to the many people who must be angry at the situation over which they cannot contain their disappointment and astonishment.”
Filming women in public spaces without their consent is such a prevalent issue in South Korea, there’s a word for it: molka. But having two, industry-shaking sex crimes come to light, one after the other, in the matter of two days is unusual and could be the beginning of a long-overdue reckoning within K-pop, which is often perceived as squeaky clean. It is an entertainment engine that operates like a well-oiled machine, one that works hard to keep its unfavorable behaviors hidden—which is why its idols and business leaders are rarely interrogated for abuse allegations. These charges are certainly shocking, and because Senguri has denied those leveled against him, most BIGBANG fans have chosen to take his word as the truth, even though the charges suggest otherwise. They’ve just never had to question him before.