|Rapper B.I, who is a former member of K-pop boy group iKon, apologized after the news of his indictment made headlines, Monday. Courtesy of IOK Company|
By Lee Gyu-lee
Rapper and former member of K-pop boy group iKon B.I has apologized for continuing his solo music career and releasing his first full-length album last week, despite dealing with an ongoing case on drug use allegations that he has been facing since 2019.
The singer's agency IOK Company released a statement on its official website, Tuesday, after news of his recent indictment on charges of purchasing illegal drugs broke, Monday.
"We apologize for releasing a new album amid the unpleasant issues revolving around the artist," the agency said. "Our company and the artist admitted to past wrongdoing and know that we can't change what has already happened. But we have been seeking ways for him to become a better and more valuable person to the world."
The agency explained that the artist, whose real name is Kim Han-bin, underwent drug tests and questioning in 2020 and was waiting for a final decision on the case.
According to Yonhap News Agency, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office indicted the head of B.I's former agency YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun-suk, May 28, on charges of threatening and coercing a witness who testified to police about B.I's drug use in August 2016. The news agency also said that B.I had been indicted recently after a two-year-long investigation.
Yang was accused of intimidating the witness to withdraw her statement disclosing B.I's drug purchase to police after being arrested for drug use.
The allegations against Yang and B.I surfaced in 2019 when the witness came forward three years later and reported them to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, asking for an official investigation to be opened.
During the police investigation, B.I partially admitted to some of the allegations that he bought illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD pills, from an acquaintance and used them in 2016.
The singer's unusual decision ― in Korea ― to carry on with his music career while still facing drug allegations has raised people's eyebrows here, despite his agency's efforts to call the allegations "past wrong deeds."
After quitting the band following the scandal, he founded his own label 131LABEL under the agency in 2020 and became the executive director of IOK Company. He made his solo debut in March with an EP, which was followed by the full-length album this month.
The agency explained that the singer wished to use his influence as a K-pop star to "add value to society," rather than entering a hiatus. B.I donated the March proceeds of his debut album after realizing how music can "contribute to society," it said.
"With this mindset, the artist presented a new work to show the music he has been preparing," the agency said. "Our company will stand by the artist who is reflecting on his past to help him become a mature, upstanding member of society."