Kim Hanbin, better known by his stage name B.I, is the former leader of iKON, a boy group produced by YG Entertainment. B.I left iKON in 2019, following news reports that he purchased and used illegal drugs in 2016. Yang Hyun Suk, founder and ex-CEO of YG Entertainment, has been charged with attempting to cover up the case. Both B.I and Yang Hyun Suk have been charged and are currently awaiting trial. The following is an up-to-date recap of the case, beginning in 2016.
Han Seo Hee is Arrested, Gives Statement About B.I’s Drug Purchases
On August 22, 2016, former trainee Han Seo Hee was arrested for violating the Drug Control Act. The police seized a cell phone from Han Seo Hee’s home and obtained chat logs in which she and B.I began discussing drugs in April 2016. In one chat log, B.I asked Han Seo Hee about buying 10 doses of LSD. He also inquired about using LSD and marijuana together.
While arrested, Han Heo See gave a statement about B.I’s drug purchases. She told police that on May 3, 2016, she had delivered 10 doses of LSD to a location near B.I’s accommodations at his request. Following these events, a drug dealer known as ”C” was also arrested. The police discovered B.I’s name among those who purchased drugs from “C.”
Han Seo Hee Reverses Her Statement
On August 30, 2016, Han Seo Hee reversed her statement about B.I’s drug purchase. She stated that B.I did ask for LSD, but he did not go through with the purchase. When asked where B.I obtained marijuana and used it, Han Heo See stated that she did not know. As a result, the Yongin Police Department determined that the circumstantial evidence was not enough to summon B.I for investigations.
On June 10, 2019, YG Entertainment was contacted regarding this case. The agency denied B.I’s alleged drug usage.
YG Entertainment is strictly managing drug usage for all artists. B.I is not connected to the 2016 drug case.
YG purchases a simple drug test kit every 2 months from the United States and tests our artists. iKON members all received a drug test prior to their promotions. Including B.I, none of the members showed any signs of drugs at that time.
— YG Entertainment
B.I Admits To Having Wanted to Use Drugs, Withdraws from iKON
On June 11, 2019, B.I announced his departure from iKON on Instagram. In his message, B.I apologized for his “inappropriate behavior” and explained why he was tempted to purchase drugs in 2016.
This is Kim Hanbin.
First of all, I sincerely apologize for causing trouble with my inappropriate behavior.
It is true that I had previously wanted to rely on things that I should not have even had interest in because I was having such a difficult and rough time. But I was not even able to do it because I was afraid.
Nevertheless, I am extremely embarassed and sorry towards all of our fans and our members, who are deeply disappointed and hurt by my wrong words and actions.
I will humbly reflect upon my wrongdoings and withdraw from the team.
I sincerely bow my head in apology once again to our fans and our members. I’m sorry.
Yang Hyun Suk Suspected of Forcing Han Seo Hee to Change Her Statement
On August 23, 2016, the day after Han Seo Hee was arrested, she received a phone call from YG Entertainment and met with Yang Hyun Suk in his office. He reportedly urged Han Seo Hee to change her statement about B.I. and hired a legal counsel for her.
On August 30, 2016, Han Seo Hee visited the police station with her new lawyer and reversed her statement, stating that B.I did not purchase drugs. Officer “Choi,” who was investigating this case, stated that he felt both the lawyer and Han Seo Hee were acting strangely during the investigations. He said the lawyer was “too protective” and Han Seo Hee seemed “intimidated.”
Following KBS’s report, YG Entertainment stated that they met with Han Seo Hee to verify the authenticity of the drug case with B.I, but they never forced her to change her statement, and they did not provide legal counsel.
Dispatch reported that, at the meeting, Yang Hyun Suk told Han Seo Hee that B.I had never tested positive for drugs, and Yang Hyun Suk threatened to sue Han Seo Hee for libel if she did not change her statement. Han Seo Hee, however, recalled Yang Hyun Suk taking her phone and threatening to ruin her career if she did not change her statement.
Yang Hyun Suk took my cell phone and turned it off. He asked me what I said at the police station. I said that he smoked marijuana and attempted to purchase LSD. Yang Hyun Suk said that he hates the idea of his boys getting investigated. He also said they got rid of all of the traces of drugs from his body, so there would be no way he could test positive.
I remember him telling me ‘Hey, Han Seo Hee! You need to be a nice girl. You can’t be a bad girl right… You dream is to be a singer right? Then you need to stay in the entertainment industry. But it’s really easy for me to just ruin you.’
He told me to change my statement. He said he is someone who can see all of the police reports. He told me he would give me a lawyer and pay for the lawyer’s services too. I was scared. I didn’t have a choice.
— Han Seo Hee
MBC‘s Newsdesk also released a report about Han Seo Hee’s changed statement. During her phone interview with MBC, Han Seo Hee claimed that she would “get in trouble with Yang Hyun Suk” if she continued to talk to B.I.
Yang Hyun Suk’s Alleged Ties to Police and the Prosecution
On June 17, 2019, an MBN News report aroused suspicions that the national prosecution office might have helped YG Entertainment cover up B.I‘s drug case. When the police received backlash in 2016 for allegedly getting rid of evidence and police files related to B.I, they stated that the prosecution office had demanded that the investigations be stopped and handed over.
MBN News reported that the prosecution office requested all files for B.I’s case. After sending the case to the prosecution, the police continued to investigate B.I independently for 6 months, until March 2017, and the investigations ended without a result.
The investigation had to be internal because we handed over all our data related to B.I to the prosecution.
— Police Investigator
Although Yongin Dongbu Police Station stated that the files were handed over, the Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office did not reportedly start any investigation on B.I’s case or Han Seo Hee. When the prosecution office was questioned about why nothing was done about B.I and Han Seo Hee, they claimed that they never requested the documents from the police.
It’s not true that we requested [the police] to hand over the case about B.I or Han Seo Hee’s drug case. It’s true that we were investigating YG Entertainment, but we can’t confirm what we were investigating them about.
— Prosecution Office
Around the same time, in an interview with KBS 9’O Clock News, Han Seo Hee indicated that Yang Hyun Suk may have connections to the police.
He said, ‘It seems like you’ll continue to be in the entertainment field. It’s really easy to ruin you’ and ‘I can check if you changed your statement or not and I’m a person that can look at your statement.’ I can’t help but infer that he has connections to the police or prosecution.
ㅡ Han Seo Hee
It was later revealed that, prior to this interview, Han Seo Hee had brought YG Entertainment’s alleged collusion with police to the attention of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC). On June 4, 2019, Han Seo Hee had anonymously filed a public petition with the ACRC through lawyer Bang Jeong Hyeon, who is known for having reported the suspicions regarding Burning Sun.
Police Announce Re-Investigation of B.I’s Case
Shortly after Han Seo Hee filed a public petition with the ACRC, the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency set up a team to investigate the case. After discussing internally, they agreed to re-open investigations.
On September 2, 2019, Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency gave an update, stating that B.I’s case would be re-investigated.
There is a high possibility that an investigation for B.I will be carried out at the Nambu office. However, it is not officially confirmed yet that an investigation will take place.
— Police official
A week later, the police announced that B.I would be summoned for questioning and investigations after the Chuseok holiday. Yang Hyun Suk would also be investigated for his involvement in the case, including whether or not he manipulated the previous outcome by forcing Han Seo Hee to change her statement.
B.I Admits to Some Drug Charges, Booked as a Suspect
During their investigations, police questioned B.I about whether or not he asked Han Seo Hee to procure marijuana, and whether or not he had ever used marijuana.
After more than 14 hours of questioning on September 18, 2019, B.I admitted to some of the charges levied against him. One of these charges was reportedly related to the use of marijuana. Due to his admissions, police booked B.I as a suspect for drug usage.
Police Find Evidence That Yang Hyun Suk Bribed and Threatened Han Seo Hee
On November 8, 2019, Yang Hyun Suk was called to the police station on suspicion of having coerced Han Seo Hee into changing her statement about B.I‘s alleged drug use. On February 13, 2020, after three months of investigations, the police announced that they had found “verifying” evidence that Yang Hyun Suk had bribed Han Seo Hee into staying quiet about B.I’s involvement.
Yang Hyun Suk has continuously denied calling Han Seo Hee into his office for the purpose of convincing her to reverse her statement. The police found his denial “lacking credibility,” having discovered that a third party under the name “Mr. Kim” was in the room during Yang Hyun Suk’s meeting with Han Seo Hee. Mr. Kim is an affiliate of YG Entertainment and reportedly the person who first assigned a lawyer to Han Seo Hee.
Police discovered discrepancies in “Mr. Kim’s” story that discredited Yang Hyun Suk’s claims. They also found new grounds to verify that Yang Hyun Suk had threatened Han Seo Hee.
B.I Tests Negative for Drugs, Investigations Continue
On February 26, 2020, Sports World reported that B.I was given a drug test as part of the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency’s investigations. Police collected hair samples from B.I and sent them to the National Forensic Service for examination, where no traces of drugs were detected.
Despite the negative results, the investigations into B.I’s drug use continued. This is because during his investigations in September 2019, B.I reportedly admitted to using marijuana. The police forwarded the case to the prosecution, who have since charged B.I with the purchase and administration of drugs.
Yang Hyun Suk Charged, to be Sent to Trial
Four months after B.I’s drug test, on June 23, 2020, prosecutors called Han Seo Hee into the Seoul Central District Attorney’s Office regarding the involvement of Yang Hyun Suk in the drug case. Following her arrival, Han Seo Hee’s lawyer reiterated that Yang Hyun Suk had threatened his client.
On June 7, 2021, Yonhap News reported that the prosecution has now charged Yang Hyun Suk with attempting to cover up his artist’s use of drugs with money. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced that Yang Hyun Suk violated the Additional Punishment Laws on Specific Crimes by threatening retaliation in order to cover up the initial crime.
Investigations found that Yang Hyun Suk attempted to change Han Seo Hee’s statement to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. He will soon be put on trial.
B.I to be Sent to Trial for Drug Charges, IOK Company Releases a Statement
On June 8, 2021, B.I released an official statement through his company, IOK Company, regarding his indictment for violating drug laws. According to the statement, B.I is facing a total of nine drug charges and is now awaiting the results of the final verdict. B.I’s first trial date is set for July 9, 2021.
Read the statement here:
Hello. This is IOK Company. We will be conveying our statement regarding our company’s artist, B.I’s indictment.
The indictment is regarding charges of drug purchase that have been going on since 2019. In 2020, B.I had followed legal proceedings and concluded high-level investigations regarding a total of 9 charges and also underwent a drug test, and we had been continuously waiting for the results of the final verdict.
After the incident, B.I, together with our company, has been continuously considering his future direction. The company, as well as our artist, has acknowledged his past wrongdoings, and although he cannot undo what has happened in the past, as he still has a life ahead of him, we have been thinking about a future direction, in order for him to become a more upright person of society, as well as of help to the world.
Rather than simply a comeback or as an action to show reflection, we had hoped that this would become a movement towards becoming a help towards society, through the influence that our artist currently possesses. It was with that intent that we released the charity album, Midnight Blue, and we personally were able to feel that music has a greater impact and help towards society than we thought. It is with similar thoughts of wanting to musically show what we have prepared up to now, that we came to a point recently of a new album.
We apologize for the current situation we have shown, as our artist releases his new album amidst the uncomfortable issue. In addition, we are really sorry for having worried the fans who have been supporting and cheering (our artist) on, through our actions that could be seen as a little rushed.
Currently, our artist is awaiting the final verdict regarding the charges. Regarding that verdict, the company will always be together with our artist, such that he is able to reflect on the past and not repeat his mistakes, having a sincere attitude towards past matters and live a life as a mature and upright member of society.
— IOK Company