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Update 2: Seoul Prosecutors Defend Bom
1 July 2014 at 8:25 AM EST: Prosecutors in Seoul rejected Segye Ilbo‘s report which had alleged that 2NE1 singer Park Bom had attempted to smuggle 82 amphetamine pills through international shipping back in October 2010, and that police and prosecutors may have turned a blind eye.
Amphetamines are banned entirely, even for medical reasons, in Korea, and the newspaper had questioned the motives of the Incheon district prosecutors through a front page “exposé” after they had suspended their case on Bom and halted an investigation.
Prosecution officials said that Bom had been legally prescribed amphetamines in the United States, adding that using and smuggling the drug is a crime punishable by five years in prison.
“Of course we are very careful in indicting people over this,” an official added. “We take a hard look at the information, and there was no preferential treatment for Bom.”
Confirming earlier reporting by K-Pop One, the official stated that “when [Bom] came to Korea, she felt that the drugs that contained no amphetamines did not work as well, so she ordered amphetamine pills based on what she had been prescribed in the U.S.”
Bom, a member of one of South Korea’s most popular girl groups 2NE1, was defended by Yang Hyun-suk, the head of parent company YG Entertainment. In a letter posted on the company’s website, Yang heavily criticized media reports and explained that Bom had suffered psychological shock after witnessing a friend die. She received years of counseling and treatment, and several drugs, including amphetamines, were prescribed by American doctors.
Update 1: YG President Calls Allegations a ‘Misunderstanding’
30 June 2014 at 8:11 PM EST: YG Entertainment President Yang Hyun Suk strongly pushed back against hyped media reports that 2NE1 singer Park Bom had been caught attempting to smuggle 82 pills of amphetamine from the United States to Seoul in 2010.
In a personal letter released through the company’s website, Mr. Yang attempted to respond to the drug allegations with a down-to-earth style approach, calling the reports a “misunderstanding” and blasting the media for making Bom an “overnight drug smuggler.”
“Should I be explaining this absurdity?” Yang demanded. “Will that end up making this situation even bigger?”
“The [reports were from] something that happened four years ago, and something that I was first when Park Bom’s parents came and told [YG] that they were being investigated,” Yang added. “Until then, all of YG as well as the 2NE1 members had no prior knowledge.”
The YG President then addressed Bom’s use of amphetamines, saying that she had spent “several years receiving psychological counseling and treatment” after witnessing the death of a close friend long before she participated in company auditions.
“The reason that I remember Park Bom among the numerous audition contestants is because as soon as I saw her, she had boldly stated, ‘It it’s not YG, I’m not going to be a singer,’” Mr. Yang stated. He went on to say that Bom had been prescribed the amphetamines by an American university hospital, and experienced complications due to her inability to send them to her mother and grandmother in Korea amid a crowded schedule.
“It doesn’t seem she understand that the medication was prohibited in Korea,” he added.
As for the police investigation, Yang said that her medical records and prescriptions were promptly submitted to police in 2010, and that the prosecutor’s investigation was been “wrapped up” shortly afterwards.
Bom is currently using a separate medication prescribed by a university hospital in Korea. Yang stated that she had “shed tears” and appeared distraught throughout the night as K-pop media erupted with false rumors and reports and countless netizens called for her to be jailed.
K-Pop One will continue to monitor this story, and will publish necessary updates.
Below is our original report:
YG Entertainment executives are scrambling today after Korean media hyped reports that 2NE1 member Park Bom was caught attempting to “smuggle” large amounts of narcotics back in 2010, never to be charged after investigators found she had been prescribed with amphetamine.
According to KBS News, Bom allegedly “attempted to smuggle” 82 pills of amphetamine from the United States through FedEx international mail to Seoul, South Korea in October 12, 2010. Korean customs personnel intercepted and flagged the package at Incheon International Airport and traced it back to the 2NE1 singer.
The package was on track to be delivered to a relative.
An investigation into the incident began shortly after an Incheon district prosecutor filed a criminal case on October 19. Bom was never booked for the drug-related crime, and the case was soon suspended on November 30 after investigators found she had a prescription, meaning that charges would not move forward.
Executives at Bom’s parent company, YG Entertainment, have reportedly gathered for an emergency meeting. We are awaiting a statement shortly.
So What Does This Mean In Plain English?
Amphetamine is a strong stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and is heavily regulated by law (classified under Schedule II drugs) and is banned for domestic distribution in the United States unless prescribed by a licensed professional to treat disorders including narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamine is strictly prohibited in South Korea, even for medical purposes.
Park Bom had a prescription for amphetamine, and therefore had the right to possess and send the pills through international mail. If she had failed to obtain or produce a prescription, then prosecutors would have all the justification and evidence needed to charge, fine and eventually jail her on drug-smuggling charges. Thankfully, this doesn’t appear to be the case, and the case was rightfully suspended.
However, legitimate questions still remain unanswered. Why would Bom send 82 pills over airmail, knowing full-well that their use would be illegal in Korea, even for medical purposes? Is the possession of 82 pills too much for a drug that is heavily regulated per month by the U.S. government? We expect YG Entertainment to address those concerns.
Has This Happened Before?
You bet. Back in 2011, several 2NE1 members were falsely accused of being connected to drug scandals, including Park Bom. The overhyping also followed with Korean media announcing that a list of K-pop celebrities who did drugs was to be released.
Social media erupted after Park Bom’s name was rumored to be on the list. Soon after, YG Entertainment threatened to sue several Korean publications for defamation. The company had issued the following statement:
“Park Bom has absolutely nothing to do with that list. It’s completely false so we just didn’t pay any attention to the rumors. But people started taking it as the truth and so we decided to address the issue with harsh legal measures. The initial rumor-spreader is currently being investigated by the Korean cyber police. We will also file a defamation lawsuit against some of the Korean press that falsely reported on this without enough fact-checking.”
Apparently, old rumors are being dug up again, and we could face a similar legal situation as in 2011.
So next time you see something that looks like a “scandal”, do your research and never accept anything you see without hint of suspicion. Today doesn’t appear to be a great day for (some) K-pop media.