Ex-YG entertainment head Yang may face police probe over snowballing drug and cover-up scandal
SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Yang Hyun-suk, former head and chief producer of YG Entertainment, may face police investigation over drug allegations involving the agency’s high-profile artists, amid a series of scandals that have damaged the reputation of the leading agency behind the rapid growth of the K-pop industry.
On Saturday, police told local media that Yang may face criminal charges if the allegation that he threatened a former K-pop trainee turns out to be true. Yang could be summoned for questioning if the trainee offers testimony regarding the allegation.
The trainee in question -- sentenced to a suspended prison term for drug use -- had revealed via her social media account that the YG founder coerced her to commit perjury to hide the fact that she had delivered drugs to former iKON member B.I. She said she is currently abroad and will return to Korea soon.
B.I. left the band Wednesday after the allegation emerged that he bought the illegal drugs three years ago.
Last Tuesday, the whistleblower filed a complaint against YG with the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission, saying that Yang pushed her to change her testimony involving the former songwriting leader of iKON.
According to lawyer Bang Jeong-hyun, who represents the whistleblower, even after the witness told police about doing drugs with B.I, police did not carry out an investigation into the artist. Bang claimed that Yang had threatened the witness to retract her statement about B.I.
Police said Yang may also be charged with concealing crimes if he is found to have known about YG stars’ alleged drug use.
Yang resigned from all his posts at YG on Friday and strongly denied all the accusations. “The truth of the current media reports and rumors will be revealed through future investigations,” he said.
His brother, Yang Min-suk, who was serving as CEO of YG, also announced his resignation in an email statement, saying he hopes YG will have a better future.
Despite the resignations of the two top figures at the agency, doubts about YG’s future remain. Yang Hyun-suk still holds a 16.12 percent stake in YG stocks as the largest shareholder. The Yang brothers together own a stake of around 20 percent in the beleaguered agency.
Meanwhile, an online news report has claimed that Lee Seung-hoon, a member of YG’s boy band Winner, might have served as a go-between for the agency and the trainee involved in Yang’s alleged cover-up, citing mobile messages it claims to have acquired.
YG has denied the claim in a statement, saying Lee was not involved in the scandal and that the allegation over his role is groundless.
In March, YG suffered a critical setback due to the high-profile scandal involving Seungri, who left Big Bang over a police probe into allegations that he arranged sex services for foreign investors.
YG has been under fire over drug allegations surrounding its artists in recent years, including G-Dragon and T.O.P of Big Bang, as well as Park Bom of now-defunct 2NE1. Rapper-songwriter Kush and a stylist, both of whom are represented by YG, were also involved in an illegal drug use case.
Under the Korean law, the sale, solicitation, use, possession, temporary possession, dispensing or provision of drugs in any way can be punished with up to 10 years in prison or a 100 million won ($84,352) fine.