Big Bang renew contract with YG Entertainment despite Burning Sun scandal and bad blood with record label
Former member Seungri and YG ex-CEO Yang Hyun-suk were embroiled in legal disputes following their involvement in the Burning Sun scandal, while current member T.O.P. recently stated he would no longer promote in South Korea following a drug scandal
Members of the legendary K-pop group Big Bang -- G-Dragon (GD), T.O.P., Daesung, and Taeyang -- have renewed their contracts with the controversial label, YG Entertainment.
YG Entertainment previously drew the ire of fans due to its links with the Burning Sun scandal via Seungri, a former member of Big Bang who retired from the entertainment industry, and Yang Hyun-suk, former CEO of YG, who resigned from all his positions following their involvement in the controversy.
The Burning Sun scandal unfolded last year and involved a whole string of celebrities and high-ranking officials in sex, money, and drug-related crimes.
Seungri was charged last year with illegal distribution of pornography (referred to in Korea as 'molka') after he allegedly shared sexual footage of women filmed without their consent. 'Molka ' (meaning 'hidden camera') has become an important talking point in the Korean #Metoo movement since 2011. South Korean singer and actress Goo Hara, who took her own life last year, was actively involved in the investigations into the scandal owing to her own experiences of being filmed without consent and having the footage be used in revenge porn.
Seungri admitted to the charge but denied filming any of the videos himself. He was also charged with procuring illegal sex services, embezzlement of business funds, attempting to destroy evidence, and violation of the Food Sanitation Act. Fellow K-pop stars Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon were also implicated in the case and were convicted for drugging and gang-raping women, filming the assault, and distributing the footage via chat rooms, some of which Seungri was a part of.
Yang fully supported and defended Seungri throughout the investigations, but later found himself entangled in the same mess for allegedly procuring sex services for foreign investors. The charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence, but Yang was later pulled up on illegal gambling charges.
With all the focus on the Burning Sun scandal, many might presume that Seungri was the problem child of YGE and Big Bang. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case. The group has seen its fair share of controversy over its nearly 14 years in the industry.
Most recently, T.O.P. was involved in a drug scandal which culminated in him overdosing on anti-anxiety medication while he was away on his two-year mandatory military service. He received a 10-month jail term and a two-year suspension. He was also removed from police duty and reassigned to public service. He recently stated on Instagram that he would not be returning to the entertainment business, though evidently, he has since changed his mind.
GD has also been involved in a drug scandal but escaped jail time due to it being his first offense. Seungri was previously involved in another sex scandal in 2012, while Daesung was involved in an accident that led to the death of a motorcyclist, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, GD has been called out for racism and has been seen in blackface multiple times. GD was also called out for racism and misogyny after appearing in a scene with choreographer Parris Goebel on a leash alongside two black dogs in Big Bang's music video for 'Bang Bang Bang'.
All things considered, it might seem odd that YGE defends and stands by its problematic artistes instead of holding them accountable the way other companies do. Given that YGE’s stocks dived after the Burning Sun scandal surfaced, one would think they’d want to avoid ruffling any more feathers in South Korea. However, the company's stocks soared again after the announcement of a Big Bang comeback at Coachella last year in addition to Blackpink and iKon comebacks. Perhaps for YGE, Big Bang is more than just one of the many idols they have signed with them.
But considering YGE's scandals and missteps, many may now wonder why members of Big Bang would continue to associate with a company that has some of its issues to deal with.
Yang has been called out for misogyny and body shaming, particularly in his treatment of girl groups like 2NE1 when he was CEO. Moreover, YGE's music and videos often feature culturally appropriative concepts, such as the use of Quran verses in a song from 2NE1's CL. YGE has also notoriously failed to show quite as much support for other artistes dealing with similar controversies, including 2NE1's Park Bom who was unceremoniously pushed out of the company, group, and industry for a previous drug-related incident despite being cleared of all charges after she produced a doctor's prescription for the medications she was traveling with. She has since made her comeback under D-Nation Entertainment.
YGE also drew flak from fans worldwide when they trademarked some of the Big Bang member's stage names so they would not be able to promote under the names they have used for nearly 14 years unless they stayed with the company, indicating the company intended to retain all income earned under the 'Big Bang' brand.
For international fans, the announcement is a welcome one since it means the group will stay together and make a comeback. But for many South Koreans, who take drugs and sex-related crimes very seriously, the relationship between Big Bang and YGE is one based on depravity and mutual benefit -- the members get bailed out of tough spots with a PR clean-up and the company saves itself from spiraling downwards despite all its controversies.