Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and former head of K-pop talent agency YG Entertainment, was acquitted Thursday of blackmailing an informant in an attempt to block an investigation into a drug scandal.
“The Seoul Central District Court issued a not-guilty verdict, saying there was insufficient evidence that Yang blackmailed the whistleblower,” Yonhap news agency reported. “The court also noted the lack of credibility of the informant’s testimony.”
YG’s boy band iKON’s lead songwriter BI’s case related to drug use allegations. In 2021, BI was found guilty of using marijuana and LSD. He was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four years.
Prosecutors sought a similar, three-year prison sentence for Young after he allegedly intimidated a female witness in the BI drugs case.
Yang resigned from his position at YG in 2019 after it became clear that the company was embroiled in a series of interconnected scandals. These ranged from drugs to prostitution and alleged corrupt links with the police. Trouble began with the band BIGBANG and its star Seungri, but has also included other YG artists.
After the revelations of the Burning Sun rape, prostitution and spycam scandals, Seungri was tried in a military court. He denied most of the charges but was convicted of procuring prostitutes for investors and embezzling more than $300,000 in funds from a nightclub. His jail term was later reduced from three years to 18 months after he was found guilty in nine cases.
YG was founded in 1996 by then-dancer and producer Yang. It has become 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.