SEOUL: South Korean pop star Seungri on Monday announced his retirement from show business amid mounting criminal investigations including his alleged involvement in a sex-for-investments scandal.
The 29-year-old singer from K-pop boy band BIGBANG is accused of lobbying potential investors by offering sex services at multiple nightclubs in Seoul's posh Gangnam district. He faced police questioning at the weekend.
"It would be better for me to retire from the entertainment business at this point," Seungri said in a statement posted on his Instagram account.
"As for the ongoing probe, I will take the investigation seriously to clear all allegations," he added.
The singer, who also owns a global franchise restaurant business, suspended his entertainment career in February and cancelled concerts scheduled for later this month.
K-Pop comes to capital
He is also linked to an ongoing police case over Burning Sun, a nightclub where he was a public relations director, for multiple investigations into illegal narcotics use and sexual assault.
"I have faced heavy criticism from the public for the last month-and-a-half and I'm being probed by all investigative authorities in the country," Seungri said.
"As I've been branded as a 'national traitor', I cannot stand the fact that I'm harming others for my own sake," he added.
BIGBANG is one of Korea's most popular boy bands, having sold more than 140 million records worldwide since their debut in 2006.
But its members have often been in the limelight for misconduct.
Rapper T.O.P received a suspended jail sentence in 2017 for smoking marijuana multiple times after he was hospitalised for a drug overdose.
Band leader G-Dragon was also investigated for smoking marijuana in 2011, although he was released without indictment.
"I give my heartfelt, sincere thanks to fans at home and abroad who gave their love for the past 10 years and I think this should be it for me for the reputation of YG Entertainment and BIGBANG," he said.
Many fans have already turned their backs on him and signed a petition last week urging Seungri's expulsion from BIGBANG, saying he had caused "unrecoverable damage to the group's reputation".
"I'm so embarrassed at myself for being your fan for the last 10 years," a user responded to Seungri's Instagram post.
Another user added: "He was my favourite among all BIGBANG members but he must be punished for what he has done wrong."