Since the beginning of 2019, K-Pop idol Seungri, former member of influential South Korean boy band Big Bang, has been caught in a whirlwind of explosive and serious allegations involving prostitution, drugs and illicit sex videos. This has caused an uproar in the Korean entertainment industry which is well-known for having K-Pop idols uphold wholesome and clean images. Let’s take a comprehensive look at how the events unfolded around one of the biggest scandals to hit the K-Pop world in recent years, with twists and turns worth of a Korean drama.
How It All Started: Burning Sun Club Allegations
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MBC’s newscast News Desk reported that a man named Mr Kim claimed that he was assaulted by a staff at Burning Sun, a nightclub reportedly co-owned by Seungri, in November 2018 as he was helping a woman who was being sexually harassed. CCTV footage revealed Mr Kim being dragged out of the club by security guards where they and a director of Burning Sun, Mr Jang, proceeded to beat him up.
Mr Kim called the police to report the incident but got arrested by the police as an assailant instead. The police report obtained by News Desk stated Mr Kim as the assailant and Mr Jang as the victim. It was reported that Seungri was present at the venue that evening.
A statement was issued by the CEOs of Burning Sun, Lee Sung Hyun and Lee Moon Ho to apologise for Mr Kim’s assault. They claimed to have fired the staff involved and promised to give their full cooperation to the investigation. Burning Sun also responded to a CCTV video of a separate incident that had been uploaded onto Youtube. It showed a woman being dragged down the hallway at the club.
She had allegedly reported the incident to the police, but no action had been taken and it was claimed that Burning Sun had deleted the footage. The club denied the accusations and provided more footage to support their claim that the woman in question was removed from a VIP table for being a nuisance and that she had assaulted their staff instead. Mr Jang also spoke to news outlet E-Daily to apologize for the assault on Mr Kim and shared footage that showed Mr Kim approaching multiple female guests and there were complaints about his behaviour. He also stated that Seungri was not at the club on the day of the incident and in fact was someone the staff did not see often.
A Burning Sun representative told daily newspaper Kyunghan Shinmun that Seungri was involved in the club’s management but was not the owner. However, newscast KBS News reported that Seungri had indeed been a director but resigned from the position the week before. They went on to report testimony from a former Burning Sun employee regarding a viral video that showed a woman getting sexually assaulted in a bathroom. The employee claimed that a VIP room in the club has a separate bathroom and the lights in the video appeared to be the same as that bathroom. It was also suggested that illegal drug use took place in the VIP rooms.
CEO of Seungri’s entertainment agency YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun Suk, released an official statement stating that he had confirmed with Seungri that he was not present at the club at the time of Mr Kim’s incident and that he had resigned from his director position in compliance with military laws so as to prepare for his upcoming military enlistment.