“G-Dragon”, star of the K-pop group BIGBANG, proclaimed his innocence on Monday to the press gathered in front of a police station in Incheon, west of Seoul, where he was questioned in connection with an investigation into drug use. The 35-year-old South Korean artist, whose real name is Kwon Ji-yong, against whom a police investigation has been opened, arrived in a black car, wearing a black suit and framed glasses black.
“I have not committed any drug-related crime,” he told reporters present. When asked if he wanted to send a message to his fans, he replied: “Don’t worry too much. I will be back after the investigation.” At the end of his interrogation which lasted almost four hours, the singer assured that he had tested negative for drugs, adding that he had urged another, more in-depth test. G-Dragon had already been questioned for cannabis use in 2011 before being released without any charges being brought against him.
The singer is the latest in a long series of entertainment figures to be the subject of such investigations in South Korea, which has toughened its laws on drug consumption and trafficking. President Yoon Suk Yeol this year called for tougher measures to stamp out drug trafficking, in a country where the sale of cannabis is punishable by life in prison. South Korean law is very severe when it comes to drug use (5 years in prison) and even provides for prison sentences for people returning to South Korea after legally consuming cannabis abroad.
Prison sentences have also been handed down against members of BIGBANG, one of the most prolific South Korean groups with at least 140 million records sold worldwide since its debut in 2006. Rapper T.O.P, who revealed in May that he had “withdrew” from the group, was given a suspended prison sentence in 2017 for cannabis use. Police also opened an investigation against Lee Sun-kyun, one of the lead actors in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, for using cannabis and other psychotropic drugs.
In September, the grandson of former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan, Chun Woo-won, was charged upon his return to the country, after posting a video filmed in New York online in which he filmed himself consuming pills presented as ecstasy and DMT.