Seungri to quit show business

Seungri.
Seungri.

SEOUL •- BigBang singer Seungri has decided to quit show business after his reputation took another big knock - being booked by police on charges of providing prostitutes to foreign investors in his private club.

"I think it is right for me to retire from this industry. I will cooperate (with) ongoing investigation and clarify every suspicion," he wrote on Instagram yesterday.

"For the past one and a half months, I've been denounced by the public, every investigation agency is probing me and I've been accused as a traitor.

"And I can't let this cause further damage to others... I think I'm done here for the sake of YG and #BigBang," Korean media cited him as posting. YG refers to the entertainment company that manages BigBang.

The police booking, which makes him a suspect in the investigation, came after the authorities raided a club to determine whether Seungri, 28, told an employee of his Burning Sun club to procure prostitutes.

A whistle-blower linked to a South Korean cable channel said he had possession of Kakao Talk messages that allegedly detailed a discussion between Seungri and a club employee over VIP treatment for clients.

The new police action, which also bans Seungri from travelling abroad, now puts in doubt whether he can proceed with enlistment for mandatory military service that is slated for this month.

K-pop fans had been stunned by reports in recent weeks, including rumours that Seungri's management agency had tried to dispose of incriminating evidence.

But YG Entertainment's boss, Mr Yang Hyun-suk, refuted such talk, saying he had personally checked into the matter and found out that the disposal of company documents was a routine process carried out each quarter. To prove that YG and Seungri had nothing to hide, he added that the documents would be kept in a warehouse run by the disposal company.

Seungri's troubles started last month when a customer said he had been assaulted by a Burning Sun employee. As other adverse reports about him surfaced, his shows in Osaka and Jakarta were cancelled.

Some BigBang fans called for his dismissal from the group, even seizing on the lyrics of a song by bandmate G-Dragon to slam the questionable behaviour of his "friends". "I'm close to Seungri/What do you want me to do?/So we can grab a drink later/I know many pretty girls/Could you give me your number?" G-Dragon sings in one song from his 2017 album, describing what fans think is a true scenario.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Seungri to quit show business'. Print Edition | Subscribe