Seung-ri, one of the biggest names in the K-pop firmament has been charged with supplying prostitutes. The singer, who denies the charges, on Monday announced that he will immediately retire from showbiz in order to protect his boy band Big Bang and its backer the talent agency YG Entertainment.
“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 press conference.
The charges, which potentially carry a three-year jail sentence, follow a police raid on Sunday night of a nightclub in Seoul, that Seung-ri controls. YG shares collapsed by some 14% on Monday, tumbling to KRW37,150.
The 28-year-old singer, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, and who also uses the stage name V.I. in Japan, has been in the headlines for several weeks.
Following an assault at the club, a video of which circulated online, Seoul police announced in late January that they were investigating goings on at the club. Allegations included the supply of drugs to patrons, and staff supplying drug-addled women for VIP clients to have sex with. Seung-ri denied any knowledge or any role.
But at the end of February a series of text messages, dating back to 2015, emerged. These appeared to show Seung-ri and three other people discussing supplying prostitutes to potential investors at the club and his Yuri Holdings company.
Seung-ri has accused the journalist who published the text messages as fabricating the evidence. But as the controversy escalated, concerts in Osaka, Japan and Jakarta, Indonesia were cancelled.
Korean media has reported that large quantities of shredded material has been thrown out by YG. The company has denied that it was destroying potential evidence and said that the clear-out was a routine quarterly procedure.
In October, it was announced that Seung-ri would be part of the cast of “Future Strategy Office,” a sitcom produced by YG for Netflix. The show’s concept that of an office where YG’s most troublesome clients are transferred. The talent would have to show how they are working to regain their places in the company.
Seung-ri is due in two weeks to take temporary leave from the band and enter Korea’s mandatory military service, though that may now be postponed due to the police investigation. Some Korean media have reported that the singer’s passport has been confiscated by police.