Yang Hyun-suk, quit as the head of YG Entertainment, the agency he founded 23 years ago, as allegations of police collusion grew Friday.
In the latest development in a string of scandals swirling around the embattled label, a whistleblower filed a report against YG with the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commision Tuesday, which raised suspicions of the label’s colluding with the police to cover up a possible drug use offense involving one of its artists -- B.I of iKon.
YG terminated its contract with B.I on Wednesday. B.I, in a statement posted on Instagram on the same day, apologized for "causing a controversy" but denied the drug allegations.
YG Entertainment headquarters in Mapo-gu, Seoul (Yonhap)
Friday morning, Bang Jeong-hyun, a lawyer representing the whistleblower, said in an interview with radio broadcaster CBS that Yang contacted and asked the witness to overturn testimony involving the iKon singer.
In announcing his resignation on YG's official website Friday afternoon, Yang denied the whistleblower's claims. "The veracity of the current media reports and rumours will be ascertained through future investigations," he said.
Bang also claimed police did not pursue an investigation of B.I despite an evidence from an August 2016 investigation suggesting that he might have taken drugs.
“The police seized the witness’ cellphone and took pictures of Kakao messenger conversations with B.I as evidence,” Bang said, adding that the witness also consistently testified in the first two interrogations that they had taken drugs together.
However, the police did not summon B.I.
During the third interrogation that took place on Aug. 30, 2016, the witness discovered that the testimony regarding B.I had not been included in the police report that was handed to the witness for confirmation, Bang said.
The witness was also called into the YG headquarters in Mapo-gu, Seoul, by Yang during the course of the police investigation, according to the lawyer.
Bang said that during the witness’ meeting with Yang on Aug. 23, 2016 the YG chief told the witness that he could “easily give (the witness) disadvantages” and asked the witness to “retract the statement made to police about B.I,” in exchange for “compensations.”
“Our artists (at YG Entertainment) will not test positive for drug use, even if you were to test them right this moment,” the lawyer quoted Yang as telling the witness. Bang said Yang told the witness, “We test our artists for drugs on a regular basis and if they test positive, we send them to Japan and we have a way of getting the drug out of the system.”
Bang said the witness had named more celebrities who are alleged to have used drugs. While none will be disclosed at this point, Bang mentioned “a certain boy band member who attempted to conceal the (B.I) incident, acting as a go-between YG and the witness.”
YG did not respond to The Korea Herald’s requests for comment.
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org