Former K-pop star Seungri

South Korean military prosecution demanded a five-year prison term for disgraced former K-pop star Seungri over charges stemming from a sex and drug scandal, reports said yesterday. The 30-year-old singer from popular boyband BIGBANG has been indicted on accusations including arranging prostitution, embezzlement and illicit gambling.

He enlisted as an army conscript last year, with the military court hearing his trial. All able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to fulfill around two years of military service to defend the country from nuclear-armed North Korea, with which it remains technically at war. Military prosecutors on Thursday asked the judge to impose a five-year jail term and a 20 million won (US$18,000) fine. “Even though the accused is the one who benefited the most from the crime, he is blaming others and severe punishment is needed,” local reports cited the prosecutors as saying.

BIGBANG enjoyed widespread fame following its 2006 debut and Seungri went on to become a successful businessman, but the public backlash over the scandal and formal investigations caused him to retire from showbiz in 2019. Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, is accused of habitual overseas gambling at luxurious casinos in Las Vegas involving illicit foreign exchange transactions. He is also suspected of arranging sex services for potential investors in his business.

The investigation into the scandal surrounding him uncovered a spate of allegations against other musicians and personnel at YG Entertainment-Seungri’s former agency and one of the biggest K-pop management firms. It prompted the agency CEO Yang Hyun-suk to step down last year facing probes of his own into illicit gambling. – AFP