Former K-Pop Star Seungri Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison Following Sex and Gambling Scandal

Seungri—a former member of K-pop boy band Big Bang who was accused of arranging sexual services for rich clients at the Burning Sun nightclub he owned in Seoul—has been sentenced to three years in prison on multiple charges including prostitution mediation, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said the 31-year-old, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, was also fined 1.15 billion won ($989,000), The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Yonhap and other local media reported he was found guilty of nine charges, including providing sex workers to foreign investors, overseas gambling and embezzling funds from the nightclub.

The court said: "The defendant arranged prostitution for foreign investors several times and obtained profits from it."

Lee was sentenced by a military court in Yongin, near Seoul, as he has been fulfilling his mandatory national military service since March 2020. He was taken into custody following the ruling on Thursday.

Lee was indicted in January 2020 on multiple charges, including providing sexual services for investors from Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and other countries from December 2015 to January 2016 in a bid to gain investment for his nightclub and other businesses.

He was also convicted of embezzling funds worth around 528 million won from the Seoul nightclub he operated and habitually gambling in Las Vegas from December 2013 to August 2017.

Lee denied most of the charges during the hearings. He claimed his business partner was responsible for the prostitution and that he did not visit the U.S. for gambling.

At a previous hearing on July 2, military prosecutors demanded a five-year prison sentence for Lee, noting he has "shown no remorse and shifted blame to other people despite enjoying large benefits from his crimes."

Lee was one of the country's biggest K-pop stars following the success of Big Bang, which debuted in 2006.

He left the band and retired from the entertainment industry in 2019 shortly after facing the allegations around the Burning Sun scandal in February that year.

His trial is part a wider scandal involving a network of pop stars, businessmen and police officers accused of colluding and enabling tax evasion, bribery and prostitution at various nightclubs in Seoul's wealthy Gangnam district.

In November 2019, former K-pop singer Jung Joon-young was sentenced to six years in prison for his involvement in gang-raping women while they were unconscious, while former K-pop star Choi Jong-hoon received a five-year sentence.

Both were convicted of sex offenses and Jung was also convicted of illicitly filming and distributing footage of the assaults via online chat groups.

Seungri in Seoul, South Korea in 2019.
Seungri, a former member of K-pop boy band Big Bang, seen outside a police station in August 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images