South Korea’s booming music industry has been hit by a scandal that has seen a far-reaching network of K-pop stars, business moguls and even cops implicated in bribery, tax evasion and sex crimes, with an ongoing investigation summoning the likes of “Gangnam Style” star Psy for questioning by police.
On May 27, South Korean network MBC’s investigative news program Straight broke the story about Yang Hyun-suk, founder of K-pop giant YG Entertainment, allegedly procuring prostitution services for foreign investors at a dinner in July 2014. Psy had previously been represented by YG Entertainment for eight years, including the time that saw him have much global success with “Gangnam Style,” until May 2018. He is known to have remained close friends with Yang, with whom he attended the dinner in question.
Psy has denied having been aware of any illegal activity that took place during the event, which was attended by Southeast Asian investors, including disgraced Malaysian businessman Jho Low. A fugitive who is wanted in Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S., Low has also been known for throwing lavish parties attended by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Paris Hilton — and Psy.
Shortly after the show aired, Psy posted on Instagram that “Jho Lo is indeed my friend.” He continued to say that “Jho Low was quite active in the Hollywood show business sector during the time I knew him,” referring to the period he rose to international stardom with YouTube mega-hit “Gangnam Style,” and that he had introduced the businessman to Yang. The singer, however, said he and Yang left early after dinner and drinks.
Local authorities said that they are making thorough investigations, but have “yet to find any substantial evidence.”
Meanwhile, Yang was interrogated by police for over nine hours Wednesday into Thursday. He has denied all accusations of prostitution mediation, tax evasion and the cover-up of a drug scandal. On June 14, he announced that he decided to step down as CEO of YG in order to avoid further damage to the firm’s artists over the accusations.
Former YG artists have been under fire in the ongoing scandal: B.I., previously rapper of the band iKON, has been accused of trying to purchase drugs, while ex-Big Bang member Seungri quit showbiz over sex bribery accusations and other crimes involving a high-end club called Burning Sun.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for a thorough investigation, and tax authorities have since launched searches of more than two dozen clubs and bars.