Former K-pop idol Seungri, has joined the army.
The fallen idol was recently indicted by Korean authorities following accusations that he procured prostitutes for business clients at his scandal-ridden nightclub, Burning Sun.
In addition, he has been charged with embezzlement from Burning Sun and with illegal gambling in a foreign country.
Since conscription laws in South Korea require all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 to serve one year and six months of military service, Seungri will now be tried for his crimes in a military court.
Seungri, real name Lee Seung-hyun, became a K-pop sensation at the tender age of 17 as the youngest member of boy band BigBang. Which is why he has waited as long as is legally possible before enlisting while he built a powerful entertainment and business career.
But Lee’s world came crashing down around him last year because of his entanglement in an illicit sex and gambling scandal which may forever tarnish the once squeaky-clean world of K-pop.
Millions Blown in Vegas
South Korea has 18 casinos, but it is illegal for nationals to gamble in all but one, the state-owned Kangwon Land in Gangwon Province.
But since criminal law applies to South Korean citizens throughout the world, it is also illegal to gamble when abroad.
South Korean authorities have accused Lee and his business associate Yang Hyun-suk of blowing through millions on trips to Las Vegas casinos.
They allege that on one visit to the MGM Grand, the pair played high-stakes baccarat for around $3,300 per hand, ultimately wagering over $3 million during the session.
Yang, himself a former K-pop star, is the head of YG Entertainment, one of South Korea’s biggest record labels and talent agencies, which managed Lee prior to his fall from grace.
Lee denies charges that he arranged for prostitutes to entertain prospective investors in Burning Sun and that he stole money from the club.
Assault Videos Shared
In late January, 2019, Kim Sang-kyo, a Burning Sun patron, reported that he had been attacked by club security when he had attempted to intervene in the assault of a woman whom it has been alleged had been drugged with the “date-rape” drug GHB.
Kim was himself initially booked by police for assaulting the woman, but was cleared after allegations surfaced that some members of the Burning Sun management were routinely drugging and assaulting women at the club.
A subsequent investigation found that Lee was a member of an internet chatroom where videos were shared of men having sex with women, some of whom were unconscious.
Two members of the chat room, both K-pop musicians, have since been convicted of conspiring in the sexual assault of a woman who was incapable of resisting, and of filming women against their will.
‘Room for Doubt’
Lee had been due to begin his military service last March, but successfully applied to have enlistment postponed by six months while the investigation was ongoing.
Prosecutors sought to arrest Lee in January, but the courts refused, saying there was room for doubt around his guilt — which the military court will now decide on.
“We will work with the Prosecutors’ Office to have a fair and consistent trial,” the Military Manpower Administration said last month. “We will consider civil court results and progress in the case in conducting the trial.”