One of K-pop’s biggest idols has dramatically quit the entertainment industry after it emerged he is being investigated on suspicion of violating South Korea’s prostitution law.
The youngest member of K-Pop mega-group Big Bang, Seungri made the announcement on his official Instagram account on Tuesday.
“I think I’d better leave the entertainment industry at this moment,” he wrote. “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.”
Seungri has for years maintained the squeaky-clean image required of South Korean entertainers.
But in recent months a scandal dogging the Burning Sun nightclub in Seoul, which Seungri sat on the board of, had put that reputation in danger. It had also caused some to question how clean-cut K-pop idols really are.
The Burning Sun club, located in the upscale Gangnam neighborhood, faces allegations of bribery, violence against customers, securing prostitutes for VIPs, rape, drug trafficking and drug use, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police. Numerous women have come forward with claims of being assaulted or drugged at the club, which the authorities have been investigating for two months.
Burning Sun last month posted a statement on social media saying it was “actively cooperating” with the police. It had also promised to introduce measures to protect customers, including female security officers and extra surveillance cameras. But since then the hotel in which it is located said Burning Sun has opted to end its lease early and close.
The club did not respond to a request for comment.
Last month, 28-year-old Seungri, who also oversaw publicity for Burning Sun, resigned from the club’s board. Neither Seungri or his label, YG Entertainment, responded to CNN’s request for comment, but a statement from the label said that he and its executives were cooperating with police.
According to multiple reports, Seungri apologized on stage at a concert on February 14 and canceled events in Osaka and Jakarta this month. But, in the end, those efforts were not enough to save his career.
“I’m truly grateful for all my fans in Korea and in the world for showing much love for the past 10 years,” he wrote on social media. “I feel that I need to end it here for the reputation of YG and Big Bang.”