Two hugely popular K-Pop stars have made headlines in certain corners of the world this week, after vowing to step out of the limelight following separate allegations of sexual misconduct.
The shock news has dominated reports in Korea and thanks to the worldwide popularity of K-Pop (the genre which gifted us Gangnam Style), singers Jung Joon-young and Seungri have also become the subject of global interest.
That said, many people in the UK are probably still in the dark when it comes to the music phenomenon, and the young stars whose careers have skyrocketed because of it. So, here’s what has been going on…
Let’s start with Jung Joon-young, the 30-year-old singer and TV personality who has quit showbiz after admitting to secretly filming himself having sex with women and sharing the videos online.
He said in an official statement: “I admit to all my crimes. I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a chatroom, and while I was doing so I didn’t feel a great sense of guilt.
“Most of all, I kneel down to apologise to the women who appear in the videos and all those who might be disappointed and upset at this shocking incident.
“Throughout the rest of my life, I will repent on my immoral and illegal acts that constitute crimes.”
The BBC reports that South Korean broadcaster SBS is claiming Jung was part of a chatroom where members posted at least 10 secretly-filmed videos, during 2015 and 2016.
Jung began releasing music in 2008 and got his big break in 2012, when he finished in third place on the TV talent show, Superstar K4. He then relaunched his music career and has performed in China and South Korea, landing multiple TV gigs along the way too.
And who is the other singer?
The second man at the centre of the matter is singer Lee Seung-hyun, a 28-year-old who goes by the stage name Seungri.
Seungri had been a member of the K-Pop band Big Bang since 2006 but quit on Monday, after becoming the focus of a sex bribery case.
To backtrack a little, let’s talk about how huge Big Bang are. They are incredibly famous and Seungri has so many businesses and companies that he’s previously been referred to as “the Great Gatsby of Korea”.
He first hit headlines for allegedly providing foreign investors with sex workers at his private members club in Seoul back in February, with local media claiming he tried to find women via messaging app, KakaoTalk.
Seungri immediately denied the accusation in a statement via his agency YG Entertainment, who said the reports were false.
However this week, he was charged with sex bribery and subsequently posted a lengthy Instagram announcement explaining his decision to leave showbiz.
Here’s HuffPost’s translation of his post:
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 apologise once again. I am so thankful to everyone up until now.
Are the two cases linked?
It’s been reported that Jung’s crimes came to light when police were investigating Seungri’s online activities, with one local outlet claiming the two stars were in a group chat together.
What happens now?
Slightly odd, but military service comes into it. All able-bodied South Korean men have to complete it, and now that Seungri has cancelled his March solo tour he’s expected to fulfill his duties, Reuters reports.
The police investigation could still go ahead, or Seungri could apply to defer his service while fighting the allegations.
Meanwhile, Jung will also face further scrutiny from officials and is set to be interviewed by police on Thursday, according to Sky.
What’s the reaction been like in Korea?
Huge. Both stories have dominated headlines and the Guardian reports that it’s affected business too, with shares in Seungri’s management agency, YG Entertainment, dropping by 16% in value.
Both cases have added shock factor because of the clean-cut images K-Pop stars traditionally have, with the genre’s popular bands being marketed as well-behaved and hard-working pin-ups.