What happened to K-pop star Seungri? A look at how sex, money and drugs ended former Big Bang member's career
Where is Seungri now and what happened to him after he retired from the world of showbiz post his alleged involvement in the Burning Sun scandal?
K-pop star Seungri's life has been ridden with controversies. The South Korean singer and songwriter first rose to fame in the mid-2000s as the youngest member of the boy band Big Bang under YG Entertainment and tugged at fans' heartstrings after their second single 'Strong Baby' dropped. With tracks like 'Let's Not Fall in Love', 'Bang Bang Bang' and 'Loser', he became one of the most popular stars in no time.
However, his alleged involvement in the Burning Sun scandal, a string of sexual abuse allegations that rocked South Korea's entertainment industry, had a major impact on his career. In 2019, after the allegations surfaced, he dramatically quit the industry and in 2020, he was indicted on prostitution and gambling charges, as per a CNN report. Where is he now and what happened to him after he retired from the world of showbiz?
The Big Bang debut
Born on December 12, 1990, as Lee Seung-Hyun, he was raised in Gwangju, South Korea and was fond of dancing since his early days. With big dreams in his eyes, he took part in a reality television series called 'Let's Coke Play! Battle Shinhwa' to find the next Shinhwa. Although he was eliminated in the ninth round, YG Entertainment approached him to audition for the new boy band, Big Bang, and join five other members: T.O.P, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung, and Hyun-Seung before their debut in 2006.
By 2008, all the members of the band began branching out to focus on their solo careers. At that time, Seungri was the first one to clinch an acting gig in a musical with Sonagi and also hosted MBC's music program 'Show! Music Core' alongside Daesung. He came back to the band for their second studio album 'Remember' and won his first triple crown for 'Strong Baby'. He then starred in his first film 'Why Did You Come to My House?' and soon went on to be a part of umpteen movies and TV shows.
Sex scandals and first set of allegations
In 2012, his career took a setback when a Japanese woman who allegedly had a one-night stand with the boy band member said he likes to "strangle his lover" during the act, according to a Korea JoongAng Daily report after the tabloid Friday published bed photos. He then took a step back from his promotional activities and opened up about the reports in 2013 on the SBS talk show 'Incarnation'.
"It was the first time in history that an idol became the center of a scandal like that. The magazine I was published in is very famous - they don't even bother talking about anyone who is not famous," he said. He then admitted that he knew the pictures and story was going to be published. "To be honest, I was told about it being printed in the magazine a week beforehand. It's not printed on the Internet but printed in a factory. So I couldn't stop it even though I knew," he said.
What happened at Burning Sun?
Although he gained much recognition in the next few years after the release of his EP 'Let's Talk About Love', toured extensively from 2015 to 2016 with his band for their third album 'Made' and starred in several films, the controversy came back to haunt his life. In 2019, he was at the center of several allegations surrounding a nightclub named Burning Sun, founded in 2018 and managed by two CEOs; Lee Moon-ho and Lee Seong-Hyun.
The singer was soon embroiled in a set of drug-related and prostitution allegations and soon after, he decided to quit the entertainment industry. At that time, he wrote on Instagram: "I just cannot bear causing any further damage to people around me, while being hated and criticized by the public and being treated as a nation's enemy during the investigation."
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police, Burning Sun was the site of bribery, violence against customers, securing prostitutes for VIPs, rape, drug trafficking, and drug use. In an emergency press conference, National Police Agency Chief Min Gap-ryong revealed they had found a connection to a group chat room from 2015 and Seungri was a part of it.
Apologizing to his fans and followers, he solemnly told the press, “I deeply apologize to the public and everyone around me who was hurt by me.” In January 2020, Seungri was indicted without detention for allegedly organizing prostitutes, habitual gambling, and illegal foreign currency trade, a PR official from the Seoul Central Prosecutors' office confirmed to CNN.
Where is he now?
Seungri was set to enlist in Nonsan Army Training Center on March 25, 2019, but it was delayed due to the Burning Sun scandal. In March 2020, he was photographed arriving at the 6th Infantry Recruit Training Center in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province. Dressed in a black hooded jumper, a black jacket and black tracksuit bottoms with grey trainers, he dodged all questions from the press.
Reportedly, enlistment means trials will be held in military courts. According to a Soompi report, he is set to undergo five weeks of military training before he begins serving as an active-duty soldier. Meanwhile, Big Bang continues with its remaining four members who are dubbed as the Kings of K-pop — G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, and Daesung.