G-Dragon did it. So did Park Bom and a pre-’Gangnam Style’ Psy. And now another K-pop star has been caught doing drugs. On June 1, news broke that BigBang’s T.O.P had been arrested after testing positive for marijuana. According to a police statement, the 29-year-old rapper smoked marijuana last October, though it’s unclear if he’s a habitual user of the drug. He allegedly smoked weed four times with a woman, reportedly Han Seo Hee, a former Jellyfish Entertainment trainee, at his home in Seoul. Han had reportedly once taunted BigBang fans by posting a comment online that said: “You [expletive] b******. Yes, I hugged and kissed your oppas. You can’t do anything about it, right? Losers.”
In a handwritten letter released by his agency, YG Entertainment, T.O.P said that he was “extremely disappointed” in himself. “I am too ashamed of myself to even stand in front of you to apologise,” he wrote. Following his indictment, the rapper, who had been serving in the military as a conscripted policeman since Feb 9, was kicked out of the army. According to reports, he will have to enlist again in the future.
And things just got worse after that. K-pop fans were stunned when news broke that T.O.P was rushed to the hospital after overdosing on tranquilisers. The star has reportedly been taking anti-anxiety meds for some time so as to cope with his panic disorder, depression and insomnia, and the drug scandal has reportedly tipped him over the edge. Initial reports also claimed that he was in ICU and in critical condition.
Thereafter, Korean media reports, citing a police spokesperson, claimed that T.O.P was merely “in deep sleep”. T.O.P’s furious mother, who had been keeping watch by his side, came out to slam the false reports. She divulged that her son was still in “critical condition” and is “close to dying”. A more optimistic statement from the star’s doctors claimed that while he still remains “unconscious”, it will take at least a week for him to recover and that he likely won’t suffer brain damage. They also added that they didn’t know how many pills T.O.P had ingested but that it was “a lot”.
Three days after his admission, on June 9, T.O.P reportedly regained consciousness and was photographed being wheeled out of the hospital’s ICU and allegedly telling reporters “I’m sorry.” His family said that the rapper would be transferred to a different hospital.
Unfortunate mishap or failed suicide attempt? Netizens seem to think it’s the latter, given the star’s history. Back in 2008, T.O.P was also sent to hospital after a drug overdose. Media reports then claimed that the rapper had attempted suicide ’cos of his break-up with then-rumoured flame Shin Min Ah. It was widely speculated that T.O.P and his agency’s claims that his hospitalisation was due to “exhaustion” was merely a cover-up for his drug use.
Under South Korean law, the rapper faces up to five years’ jail or a fine of up to 50 million won (S$61,600). Rumours are rife that G-Dragon and Park Bom, who were also embroiled in drug scandals in 2011 and 2014 respectively, managed to skirt South Korea’s strict drug laws due to YGE’s supposed connections with the government then. Choi Soon Shil, the long-time confidante of disgraced former South Korean president Park Geun Hye, allegedly has a financial stake in YG. Fans are now speculating that T.O.P now faces jail time ’cos YG is no longer protected by Choi, who was officially charged for intervening in state affairs last November. So will T.O.P get off scot-free like his YG label mates or face judgement? And will he bounce back from the drug scandal like G-Dragon or see his career implode like Bom? Only time will tell.
PHOTOS: TPG NEWS/CLICK PHOTOS/AFP