SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Rapper Kush has been booked without detention for purchasing and using cocaine, in another drug-related incident involving an artist from YG Entertainment.
On Friday, the police said Kush, 33, whose real name is Kim Byung Hoon, was nabbed in an undercover operation on Tuesday at a villa in Bangbae-dong in Seoul, while attempting to pick up about 1g of cocaine from an unmarked mailbox.
Media outlets reported that Kim admitted his drug use during police questioning, saying he had used cocaine on two separate occasions since Nov 26.
He claimed to suffer from depression. The police said there would be an additional investigation to discover how Kim was able to buy cocaine, before they request an arrest warrant.
Kush, who also works as a producer for YG's independent Black Label, is the mastermind behind hits like BigBang's Tonight, 2NE1's I Don't Care and Zion.T's Yanghwa BRDG.
Some are now calling YG a "drug store", accusing the agency of having lost control of its artists and not taking proper measures to counter drug abuse. Kush is the fourth YG artist to be involved in a drug case since 2011.
YG is known as a kingdom for free-spirited artists. Starting with BigBang and 2NE1, the agency took a different path from other K-pop companies by building a hip image.
In 2011, BigBang leader G-Dragon admitted marijuana use at a Japanese club, although he claimed he was unaware of the substance he was inhaling at the time. He was released without indictment as prosecutors said he had smoked only a tiny amount and it was his first use.
In 2014, the police discovered that Park Bom of 2NE1 had allegedly smuggled banned amphetamine pills in 2010 through the international postal service. Again, the incident was dismissed without indictment. The singer claimed she was unaware that the substance was illegal in South Korea and that she had taken the pills for medical purposes when she lived in the United States. At the time, YG CEO Yang Hyun Suk released a letter to the public expressing his outrage at the media that referred to Park as a "drug smuggler".
Another Big Bang member, T.O.P, made headlines in August this year for having smoked marijuana several times last year with an agency trainee. He was given a 10-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
Popular culture critic Im Jin Mo said the frequency of drug-related scandals at YG may have something to do with the agency's culture.
"I think YG's drug scandals somewhat reflect the agency's secretive and closed inner culture. Compared to S.M. and JYP Entertainment, YG has a more clandestine image," he said.
He also said that the way YG deals with public criticism in the face of controversies may have a negative impact on the agency's future.
"YG's way of coping with scandals has been a bit arrogant and defensive, and that's because the agency thinks it has power. But that kind of attitude is not going to be helpful in the long term. One big problem about K-pop agencies is that they show dramatic changes in attitude after gaining power. But I want to advise them to be humble," he said.
On Sunday afternoon, The Black Label said it had no official statement yet and was in the process of confirming the story.