A slew of scandals has hit YG Entertainment, one of Korea’s biggest entertainment agencies, since the start of 2019. It all began with the highly-publicised ‘Burning Sun’ scandal that involved former YG star and Big Bang member Seungri.
Last Wednesday, the K-Pop industry and fans woke up to the news that iKON’s B.I. withdrew from the group amid drug allegations. Since then, things have spiralled downwards.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s been happening and who has been involved:
On June 12, B.I, the leader and songwriter for popular seven-member boy group, officially departed from YG Entertainment hours following a local news report alleging he tried to purchase illegal drugs in 2016.
As the allegations spiralled, B.I, whose real name is Kim Han-bin, formally announced his wish to leave the team in an Instagram post and stated that he’s “deeply sorry” for his past behaviour.
Though he admitted to the drug purchase allegation, he denied taking drugs according to his statement.
“It’s true that I had interest in something to rely on which I shouldn’t have at one point when I was having a hard time. But I was too scared and worried to follow through,” the singer wrote according to The Korea Herald’s translation. He has expressed his remorse to his fans and bandmates.
While at first denying allegations, YG Entertainment, also known as one of the ‘Big 3’ labels in Korea, released a statement apologising for the singer’s drug allegations and swiftly confirmed the termination of B.I’s exclusive contract just merely after his online post.
The sudden announcements came after Korean media outlet Dispatch broke an exclusive story of the rapper-songwriter’s alleged LSD and marijuana purchases from April 2016 through messaging app, KakoaTalk. The screenshots showed conversations between B.I and an anonymous acquaintance, who is reported to be former YG trainee Han Seo Hee, during which the singer was inquiring on the hallucinogenic drug and wanting to use drugs to “become a genius”.
The media report came with a claim that the police detected signs of the alleged attempted purchase when Han was arrested and implicated that the 22-year-old used drugs before but didn’t go through with an investigation.
In the wake of the sudden departure, YG Entertainment’s stocks took a hit and fans created a petition on Charge.org to keep him in the band. Fans took over Twitter to show support by trending hashtags such as #HanbinStayWithUs, #Hanbin and #iKON and was topic of discussion on the social media channel locally.
Since 2015, B.I has been a leader of iKON, a boy group that formed as the result of the reality TV show in 2015 and achieved a breakthrough with 2018 megahit song, ‘Love Scenario’. B.I is heavily involved in the group’s discography. He was recently featured in Lee Hi’s newest top hit, ‘No One’ and was reportedly working on some new music for iKON and a duo album with member Bobby.
A day after his withdrawal, YG Entertainment announced that the remaining six members will continue forward with their scheduled Japanese tour.
Han Seo Hee
As reported by multiple outlets, the anonymous acquaintance — previously referred to as “A” — is allegedly former YG trainee Han Seo Hee, who dated Big Bang member T.O.P and informed police she smoked marijuana with him, which got the popular artist his own drug scandal two years ago.
In August 2016, Han was arrested for smoking marijuana and had her phone searched, revealing the text messages between B.I and herself. She reportedly testified to the police that she had handed LSD to B.I. but later refuted her statement. Additionally, Han insisted that she did not give the drug to the singer, police told Dispatch. Local media claimed that YG’s now former founder and chief producer Yang Hyun-suk influenced her testimony and actively worked to keep B.I from being investigated, to which he and the company denied.
Though Yang and B.I denied the idol’s drug use, Dispatch reported that Winner’s Lee Seung Hoon told Han via KakaoTalk on June 1 — two months before she was booked by police — that B.I tested positive in the company’s drug test and revealed that he took the illegal substance with her.
She also reportedly claimed that Yang threatened her after telling the police about B.I smoking marijuana with her and buying LSD through her, and provided her with a lawyer.
Yang Hyun-suk, YG Entertainment’s chief producer and founder, officially resigned from the company in all roles and capacities amid numerous legal scandals involving the company, its artist and himself.
With Yang’s actions increasingly under scrutiny and the company’s public image took a toll, he announced his decision to step down from his position on Friday. His resignation comes after facing a number of allegations and series of scandals that includes corrupt police ties, tax evasion accusations, Seungri’s KakaoTalk controversies, B.I’s drug offence cover-up and more.
The company’s stocks have been immensely unstable when news broke out related to the drug allegations and criminal investigations.
Yang, who was formerly part of the iconic ‘90s trio Seo Taiji & Boys, founded the company in 1996 and managed the careers of K-Pop’s rising and biggest acts such as Big Bang, iKON, Winner, Psy, 2NE1, BlackPink and more.
Following his resignation, his elder brother Yang Min-suk has also stepped down from his position as lead director of YG Entertainment. In a statement released to the employees, he has apologised for what has happened to the company and hopes his decision “will bring about the start of new, positive changes for YG Entertainment,” according to The Korea Herald.