Yang Hyun-suk, Former Head of K-Pop’s YG Entertainment, Found Not Guilty on Blackmail Charges

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Yang Hyun-suk, founder and former head of K-pop talent agency YG Entertainment, was acquitted Thursday on charges of blackmailing an informant in an attempt to block an investigation into a drug scandal.

“The Seoul Central District Court delivered a not-guilty verdict, saying there is insufficient evidence that Yang had blackmailed the whistleblower,” the Yonhap news agency reported. “The court also noted the lack of credibility of the informant’s testimony.”

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The case related to allegations of drug use by B.I., the lead songwriter of YG’s boy band iKON. In 2021, B.I. was found guilty of using marijuana and LSD. He was given a three-year prison sentence, suspended for four years.

Prosecutors sought a similar, three-year jail sentence for Yang alleging that he had intimidated a female witness in the B.I. drugs case.

Yang resigned from his positions at YG in 2019 when it became clear that the agency was mired in a series of inter-linked scandals. These stretched from drugs to prostitution and an allegedly corrupt relationship with the police. Problems started with the band Bigbang and its star Seungri, but also encompassed other YG artists.

Following exposure of the Burning Sun rape, prostitution and spycam scandal, Seungri was tried by a military court. He denied most of the charges but was found guilty of procuring prostitutes for investors and misappropriation of more than $300,000 of funds from a nightclub. He later had his jail term reduced from three years to 18 months after changing to a guilty plea on all nine counts.

YG was founded in 1996 by then dancer and producer Yang. It has grown into one of the top three K-pop agencies alongside SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment and has produced top K-pop acts including Bigbang, 2NE1, Psy and Blackpink.

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