On Feb. 2, renowned K-pop artist Seungri apologized for a multitude of incidents surrounding a physical assault and drug dealing at Burning Sun, a club in Gangnam that he had owned until November 2018. The K-pop phenom announced that he was sorry for and regretful of the various incidents involved with the Gangnam club and how he had avoided the accusations questioning his responsibilities in such issues. He expressed to the public that he was “extremely embarrassed and apologetic for not having been more humble.” Nevertheless, the media attention surrounding the club continues as the frequency of reports on such issues, especially drug dealing, increases.
“Whether or not he was guilty, I think it was rightful for Seungri to publicly apologize,” said Celine Choi (10). “Nowadays, it is important for Korean idols to upkeep a clean, unstained image – the public and media are very sensitive to information regarding such celebrities.”
Kim was spending the night at Burning Sun with his friends when he was accused of sexual assault by a woman at the club. The guards of the club pulled him out of the dance floor and started beating him on the ground, causing severe physical damage, including broken ribs. Upon report of violence, the police were called to the site; they took Mr. Kim as the primary inflictor of violence and began beating him on the ground. The second incident of violence happened at the police station. Mr. Kim was hospitalized for four weeks after the incident. Although the police also asserted that the beatings had been exaggerated, the extent of physical damage on the victim’s body stated otherwise, and law enforcement agencies are investigating the potential manipulation of CCTV footage in the police station. This case garnered attention from the public to possible corrupt ties with Burning Sun and the police. When Seungri was asked about the issue, he responded that he had resigned from his position before this incident.
“Reading about the Burning Sun incidents on the news, I was disappointed by the reputation that Korean clubs were building,” said Andrea Shin (11). “There seemed to be various cases of drug abuse and sexual assault that triggered negative reactions on social media platforms.
Meanwhile, a continuous investigation has been going on regarding the issue of drug dealing within the club. Frequent reports from customers and former workers of the club who were suspicious of the consumption and dealing of drugs – upon witnessing customers at tables “inhaling substances through their nose” – led to police interference. The strongest suspicion was centered around Chinese customers, specifically a woman named “Anna.” She is believed to be well-acquainted with Seungri, paving way for further doubts on the matter of his involvement and responsibility for mishaps occurring in the club. However, Anna has denied all accusations against drug abuse and beliefs of ties with Seungri.
“I read that not only were there multiple instances of drug abuse but there was also a hostile work environment that was established for the workers at the club,” said James Fischer, high school English teacher. “Drunk customers using VIP tables would cuss at and mistreat the employees at the club with repeated reports of drug use. I find it quite puzzling that no charges were filed at all.”
There were many more minor incidents that have garnered attention from the public, such as sexual assault and tampered/roofied drinks which the club officials have not denied. Customers with large spendings at the club who mistreat the employees have also been persistent problems for the club. The public began to turn their attention toward Seungri, criticizing him for failing to upkeep his reputation as a renown celebrity in Korea. He initially denied such claims as he had resigned from his position two days prior to the physical assault of Mr. Kim and the stream of violent events that followed. It was only recently in Feb. 2018 when he admitted his responsibility in the mismanagement.