South Korea’s K-Pop stars are known for their elegant tastes for fashion, their unmatched talents, and flawless appearances. The “idols,” as they are known in the East Asian country, are chosen and raised to become superstars from a young age.
As idols, K-Pop members also have reputations to maintain. They don’t date and adhere to strict dietary and gym routines. So, when the news broke early this year that the K-Pop industry was plagued with sex and gambling scandals, the world stopped to find out what was happening.
If you have no idea about the scandal or want to learn more about, stick around for a few more minutes.
Assault at the Burning Sun
The ongoing K-Pop music scandal began in January this year after a report emerged that a man had been assaulted at the famous South Korean night club, the Burning Sun. When police in Seoul investigated the matter, they discovered many more ills: police corruption, drug trafficking, and prostitution.
To make matters worse, the club’s executive, Seungri, a senior member of the Big Bang K-Pop band, was involved. He resigned immediately after the report, but the scandal blew up into international proportions.
A series of women came out to tell their stories of being drug raped at the club. Spycams showing revelers being drugged emerged, and a famous entertainer, Jung Joon-Young, admitted to having taped himself having sex with women illegally.
Although most K-Pop fans have always associated the Burning Sun with Seungri, police have been putting more focus on other people in the club.
As online-casinos.com reports, the Metropolitan police questioned Yang Hyun-Suk, an executive and an influential K-Pop music producer, back in August. Yang was interviewed on alleged misappropriation of funds and bribing police officials to facilitate prostitution, tax evasion, and other financial crimes.
The former K-Pop idol also manages Big Bang through his Y.G. Entertainment label, the pop band which Seungri was a member of until he resigned earlier this year.
Concerning the missing money, police in Seoul believe Yang and Seungri stole cash from the club and gambled it at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. More precisely, Seoul officials have records showing Yang might have gambled up to 17 hours a day, spending $3,300 per hand.
After a much-publicized investigation, people in Korea began to react to the K-Pop scandal. Women organized a street protest on the International Day of Women (March 8) to condemn the Burning Sun and other night clubs.
South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, also spoke up to admonish the club and K-Pop members involved in the saga. He called for a thorough investigation, which ultimately ended up with a few people getting arrested.
Surprisingly, there had been protests against the Burning Sun since late 2018, but they didn’t get media attention until the scandal exploded.
Korea’s Gambling Laws
South Korea has some of the strictest gambling laws in the world. The country has several casinos, and its citizens are allowed to gamble in one of the casinos. But except for that single establishment, South Koreans can’t gamble anywhere else in the world.
As such, even though Yang and Seungri gambled thousands of miles away from their home country in Las Vegas, they broke South Korea’s gambling laws. Seungri is easily the most affected K-Pop idol in the gambling saga.
He was enjoying an unshared media spotlight in part because his Big Bang colleagues were serving military duty. As he’s admitted in the past, the 28-year-old has often felt underappreciated, which led him to invest in business aggressively.
Effects on the K-Pop Industry
Following the blow-up of the saga, a slew of businesses affiliated to K-Pop band members have taken severe financial hits. Seungri and Yang’s Y.G. Entertainment, for example, dropped 24.8% in share value in less than a month.
S.M. Entertainment, Cube Entertainment, and a few more K-Pop businesses also lost value by double digits between February and March. Some financial analysts gave hope to investors predicting the companies to pick up and record profits later in the year. But by September, Y.G. Entertainment’s value had more than halved.
As a result, Y.G. Entertainment stopped selling products featuring Seungri. Some Korean T.V. stations also deleted footages that featured Seungri and his partner Yang. Of course, Yang and Seungri were not the only affected K-Pop artists.
B.I., an idol of the iKon band, resigned after media stations showed footage of him purchases drugs. B.I. was also affiliated to Yang Entertainment, which forced the label to release a statement condemning the artist.
Local and International Concerns
In addition to demonstrations from women, the K-Pop scandal has led to country-wide and international reactions. Locally, the scandal inspired activists to create awareness about crimes related to hidden cameras.
Government organizations also increased monitoring in the Gangnam district, the Seoul neighborhood where the Burning Sun and other K-Pop clubs are located. To avoid being classified as K-Pop night clubs, some restaurants in the region also hung posters asking patrons not to dance within their premises.
Internationally, at least one country, France, warned its citizens against rape-drugs, spy cameras, and other crimes associated with K-Pop members.
No Efforts to Discipline Idols?
Despite being a publicized saga, Bloomberg recently accused the K-Pop industry of ignoring instead of fixing issues associated with its stars. In an article published earlier in November, the network claimed K-Pop has been sabotaging efforts to solve the problems like gender pay gaps, sexual harassment, and misappropriation of singers’ money.
Bloomberg also stated that “there have been no organized demands for better behavior from male stars or serious discussions about revamping how idols are trained.”
The newspaper noted it would be better for everyone involved in the scandal to exit out of the K-Pop scene.
“No one in K-Pop is indispensable, no idol, no matter how popular, is bigger than the machine,” the Bloomberg article concluded.
Considering people like Seungri and Yang are now out of the scene, however, maybe K-Pop will clean up once and for all.