K-pop star Seungri, a member of the boy band Big Bang, abruptly announced his retirement from the entertainment industry after police named him as a suspect in operating a prostitution ring.
Seungri, called South Korea’s “Great Gatsby” for his posh lifestyle, was formally named in the investigation Sunday by Seoul police, according to local news agency Yonhap. The singer, born Lee Seung-hyun, is suspected of using several nightclubs around the city’s luxurious Gangnam district for escorting, the agency reported. Lee has denied the accusation.
On Monday, Lee, 28, posted an apologetic statement on Instagram, declaring the end of his entertainment career and vowing to “accept all investigations and reveal all the suspicions” in the case against him.
Lee apparently fell under suspicion in January, when video of an assault at the Burning Sun club triggered a police investigation, Variety and The New York Times reported. The club’s head reportedly said the nightspot had been subjected to rumors of drug sales, police collusion and sexual assault.
The investigation intensified last month, when social media messages dating back to 2015 surfaced that implicated Lee in orchestrating sexual favors for investors at Arena, another club, Yonhap reported.
Police raided Arena on Sunday and named Lee as a suspect. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for three years.
HuffPost translated Lee’s Instagram statement:
This is Seungri. At this point, I think it would be for the best if I retire from the entertainment industry. I decided on retiring from the entertainment industry due to the issues that I caused. The disturbance and issues in society are too big. Regarding the issues that are being investigated, I will accept all investigations and reveal all the suspicions.
While getting criticism and hate from the public for the past month and a half, and with all the agencies in the country currently investigating me, I am even being considered a traitor of Korea. Personally, I can’t tolerate harming everyone around me to save myself.
I would like to sincerely thank all the fans in Korea and around the world who have given me lots of love for the past 10 years. I think this is where my end [as a celebrity] will be, even if it’s [to protect] the honor of YG and BIGBANG.
Again, I am sorry and would like to apologize once again. I am so thankful to everyone up until now.