One of the biggest names in K-Pop has announced his retirement from music after being charged with supplying prostitutes.
Seungri, a now ex-member of the boy band Big Bang, is nicknamed “Korea’s Great Gatsby” for his opulent lifestyle. He denies the charges but says he will retire from the industry in order to protect his band and the talent agency YG Entertainment.
The charges, which see the 28-year-old singer facing a potential three-year jail sentence, follow a police raid at a nightclub managed by Seungri in Seoul. olice had been investigating the club over the past few weeks over allegations involving the supply of drugs to patrons, and staff supplying drug-addled women for VIP clients to have sex with. Prostitution is illegal in South Korea.
Seungri denied any knowledge or role in the alleged ongoings. However, in February he was declared a suspect after a group chat dating back to 2015 emerged, where he appeared to talk about soliciting prostitutes for potential investors at the club and his Yuri Holdings company.
The pop star accused the journalist who published the messages of fabricating evidence. As controversy escalated, concerts in Japan, Osaka, Jakarta and Indonesia were cancelled.
“We booked Seung-ri and changed his status to that of a suspect in order to issue a search and seizure warrant and clear [Seung-ri] of the suspicions,” a police spokesman said at a conference, according to Variety.
In a statement posted on his Instagram page, the singer said: “At this moment, it seems like it would be good for me to retire from the entertainment industry. I’ve decided [to retire] because of the huge social controversy that has arisen.”
He added: “During the past month and a half, I have received criticism and hate from the public and been in a situation where every investigative agency in this country is investigating me. I just cannot accept causing pain to those around me just for my sake.
“I would like to sincerely thank all of the fans both in and out of Korea who have shown me love for the past ten years. For the sake and honour of Big Bang and YG, my career is ending here.”
Seung-ri was scheduled to enter Korea’s mandatory military service in two weeks, although it has been suggested the ongoing police investigation may delay this.
According to Bloomberg, the scandal has seen the K pop stock market take a dive, with YG sliding as much as 14 per cent on Monday 11 March.
Fans of Big Bang are currently divided on social media: some remain loyal to Seungri and are expressing their support for him, while others are criticising him over the allegations.