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Former K-pop idol Seungri has been sentenced to three years in prison on prostitution and gambling charges, according to a report from Yonhap News Agency. The sentencing is part of one of South Korea’s biggest entertainment scandals in recent memory.
30-year-old Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, is a former member of the K-pop group Big Bang, which debuted in 2006. In 2019, he announced his departure from the group and retirement from the entertainment industry after being arrested on suspicion of supplying prostitutes to potential investors, The Guardian reported at the time. The events were part of a scandal around Burning Sun, a nightclub for which Seungri sat on the board and oversaw publicity for, CNN reported.
Yonhap News, a news agency in South Korea, reported on Thursday that Seungri had been sentenced to a three-year prison term by a military court on nine charges, which included prostitution mediation and overseas gambling. The court, per Yonhap News, also ordered that Seungri be immediately detained. The court also reportedly ordered Seungri to pay 1.15 billion Korean won (close to $1,000,000).
Seungri was indicted in January 2020 on eight charges
Soompi, an English-language Korean pop culture news outlet, reported that he was indicted on eight charges that included prostitution mediation, embezzlement, and violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act.
According to Soompi, Seungri denied all charges in a September 2020 hearing, with the exception of a charge of violating the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act.
In January, Seungri was additionally charged with special violence instigation in relation to an alleged 2015 incident, Soompi reported. Seungri’s lawyer reportedly denied the charge at the time.
The Associated Press reported that Seungri’s case was transferred to a military court in 2020 after he enlisted in March of that year. South Korean able-bodied men are required to enlist for mandatory military service that lasts for about 20 months by the age of 28 if not earlier, according to The New York Times.
Reuters reported that Seungri appeared in military uniform in court and shook his head as he listened to the sentence.
The sentencing is the latest development in one of South Korea’s biggest entertainment scandals
Seungri’s sentencing is the latest development in a years-long series of events tied to the shuttered Burning Sun nightclub, which previously operated in Seoul’s Gangnam district.
The Burning Sun scandal has been one of South Korea’s biggest in the entertainment industry. Reports of a sexual assault at the Burning Sun nightclub in 2019 prompted police to further investigate the club in January of that year, Insider previously reported. In February 2019, a man claiming to be a VIP member of the club told Korean broadcaster MBC that club staff texted rich customers to say that they had women “ready” for them, The Korea Times reported.
Later that month, messages surfaced that appeared to show Seungri and three others discussing supplying prostitutes to potential investors at Burning Sun and Seungri’s Yuri Holdings company, Variety reported.
Investigations around the scandal and into Seungri have also resulted in sentences for other Korean artists including Jung Joon-young and Choi Jong-hoon, who were sentenced to six and five years in prison, respectively, in late 2019 on charges that they gang-raped a drunk, unconscious woman, Insider previously reported. Jung was also charged with distributing videos he took while having sex with women.