The ex-K-pop star Seungri was sentenced Thursday, August 12, by a military court to three years in prison for pimping and for acts committed in the context of a sex and drug scandal, announced the South Korean authorities.
The 30-year-old singer, who became popular with boy band BigBang, was found guilty on nine counts, the defense ministry said. He had retired from the music scene when the scandal erupted in 2019, then enlisted in the army to do his military service.
BigBang was one of South Korea’s best-known boy bands. Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, has become a wealthy businessman. The military court considers him guilty of illegal transactions within the framework of bets carried out in luxurious casinos of Las Vegas, and of having used prostitutes for people ready to invest in his company.
750,000 euros in damages
“It is hard to believe that the accused was not aware of the money paid to women in exchange for sexual services”said the judge, Hwang Min-je, whose words were published in the press. “It seems that he engaged in systematic sexual prostitution”, continued the magistrate. Seungri had altered his testimony during police questioning and in court, he added, believing that he “Lacked credibility”.
The singer was also ordered to pay 1.15 billion won, or 750,000 euros, in damages. According to the prosecution, he arranged meetings between prostitutes and foreign investors twenty-four times over five months, starting in September 2015.
The scandal had spattered other musicians, as well as members of YG Entertainment, one of South Korea’s biggest producers. This led to the announcement in 2019 of the resignation of its CEO, Yang Hyun-suk, who is himself the subject of an investigation for illicit betting.
The judgment comes a month before the singer is released from his military obligations. Any valid South Korean must serve for eighteen months, before the age of thirty, in a country facing the North Korean threat.