The K-pop industry has been hit by a wave of controversy.
One fifth of popular group Big Bang—whose 140 million worldwide record sales make it one of the biggest selling boy bands in the world—rapper T.O.P was hospitalized yesterday for an alleged overdose.
In a press conference at the Ewha Womans University Medical Care centre, doctors allegedly suggested that the 29-year-old star had overdosed on benzodiazepine: a drug typically used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms.
The rapper, whose real name is Choi Seung-hyun, remains in intensive care, with reports in the Korean media varying in extremity. Outlets have published stories suggesting that the artist is “sleeping it off”, while other sources propose that he has sustained brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.
Fans are worried that Seung-hyun’s condition may have been a suicide attempt. His hospitalization occurred the day after police officially indicted the performer for smoking marijuana four times with an unnamed 21-year-old aspiring singer. The use of marijuana is banned in South Korea, and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, or a 50 million won fine (around CDN$60,000).
Seung-hyun recently wrote a public letter of apology, which, roughly translated, reads:
This is Choi Seung-hyun.
First of all, I would like to sincerely apologise for causing great disappointment and disturbance with a huge wrongdoing. I am too ashamed of myself to stand in front of everyone for an apology. I have no excuses and feel very regretful and fearful, so I am carefully writing down these feelings as words.
Our members, my agency, the public… My fans who have supported me, and my family, I have left an irreparable scar in everyone's hearts, so I believe I deserve to be punished.
My heart aches, and I am also very ashamed of myself. I will meditate and reflect on [my mistake] again and again. I will never make such an irresponsible mistake again. Once more, I apologise for not being able to apologise to everyone personally. I will deeply repent my wrongdoing.
I am very ashamed of myself.
The rapper had just begun his two-year mandatory military service, required for all able-bodied Korean men before the age of 35. Seung-hyun had been working as a conscripted policeman since February, beginning at the Gangnam Police Station in Seoul but moving to a different corps in the city following his indictment. His military service period will be suspended until his case is tried in court.
Big Bang fans are supporting the rapper on Twitter with the hashtag #StayStrongTOP.
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