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Yang Hyun-suk steps down from YG amid mounting pressure

By Yim Hyun-su

  • Published : Jun 14, 2019 - 17:03
  • Updated : Jun 14, 2019 - 17:03

Yang Hyun-suk, the chief producer and founder of YG Entertainment, is leaving one of South Korea’s biggest entertainment agencies following a slew of scandals that dented the company’s public image in recent months.

In an emailed statement Friday, Yang said, “I’ve dedicated the last 23 years of my life to YG Entertainment. It was my biggest pleasure to support the best artists and music and the only gift I can give to society and fans.”

“From today however, I’ve decided to step away from all responsibilities and positions at YG,” he said.

His departure was soon followed by the resignation of his younger brother and CEO Yang Min-suk. In the statement, he said he wanted to put out a clear message following his older brother’s move.

The surprise announcements come after several YG artists were mired in a slew of scandals including former iKON member B.I and Seungri of Big Bang.

Both B.I and Yang came under hot water after a former idol trainee and a whistleblower spoke out on the allegations that Yang pressured her to change her police statement about B.I’s drug use.

Earlier this week, local media outlet Dispatch reported that B.I tried to buy hallucinogenic drug LSD from a broker back in 2016 and even implied having done drugs together in a KakaoTalk chat. Immediately after the report, the former iKON leader quit the group.

Amid growing rumors about the idol member’s alleged drug use, a brief telephone interview by MBC last night revealed the broker's identity, the same person who filed the case with the nation’s anti-corruption agency for a possible reinvestigation.

With her name dominating headlines immediately, she took to Instagram and urged her followers to divert their attention away from her.

“I’m worried that people might miss the bigger picture here that Yang Hyun-suk meddled and even threatened (me) in this case as well as having ties with police. I’m urging people to separate me from this case instead of focusing on me who is just a whistleblower,” the post read.

“I know there is no point now but I tried to stop Kim Han-bin (B.I) from doing drugs,” she added.

According to the Dispatch report, she initially told police that she delivered LSD to iKON’s dorm in Seoul but later changed her statement and claimed she wasn’t able to obtain the drug. She was being questioned on suspicions she had used cannabis -- for which she was later sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four years.

The report also alleges that Yang met the trainee and provided her with a lawyer as well as asking her to change her police statement regarding B.I’s involvement.

Both B.I and YG have denied the singer’s use of drugs, though Dispatch reported Thursday that WINNER's Lee Seung-hoon told the whistleblower on the phone that B.I tested positive in a company drug test.

Following the petition filed, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission is expected to have a look at the case and send it over to police and prosecution if the content is considered highly credible.

Despite his official departure, Yang is still the largest shareholder of YG with a 16.12 percent stake, while his younger brother and CEO Yang Min-suk owns 3.31 percent.

Since the Seungri scandal broke in January, YG’s stock price has tumbled almost 30 percent. On Friday, the price ended at 29,500 won ($24.88), compared to 42,250 won on Jan. 28.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)

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