BI, the leader of the popular K-pop boyband iKON, has announced he is leaving the group following allegations that he had tried to purchase marijuana and LSD.
The K-pop idol — born Kim Han-bin — revealed his decision through Instagram: “It is true that I wanted to rely on something that I shouldn’t have had any interest in due to going through a hard and painful time. However, I was too scared and fearful to do it. Even so, I am so ashamed and apologetic to fans who were greatly disappointed and hurt because of my wrong words and actions. I intend to humbly self-reflect on my mistake and leave the team,” Kim wrote in Korean, as translated by Soompi.
Kim’s label, YG Entertainment, has since confirmed that his exclusive contract with them has been dissolved. The company stated that Kim understands his responsibilities as a public figure and, due to his actions, has decided to leave both iKON and YG Entertainment. Kim has also been removed from iKON’s bio on the company’s website.
News of Kim’s attempts to buy marijuana and LSD in April 2016 first broke at 2am last Wednesday morning, as reported by South Korean media agency Dispatch. The report included several exchanges between the singer and the drug dealer, identified by the letter “A,” on KakaoTalk (a popular messaging app in South Korea).
Subsequent South Korean news reports from Naver and Daum have alleged that the identity of “A” is a former YG Entertainment trainee named Han Seo Hee. Han was previously involved in a similar drug-related scandal in 2017 involving TOP of veteran K-pop boyband Big Bang (who are also signed with YG Entertainment). TOP eventually pleaded guilty and received a two-year probation sentence.
Despite the controversy and the loss of their leader, iKON will go on without Kim, YG Entertainment confirmed. The boyband is set to embark on their scheduled Japanese tour, which kicks off in Fukuoka on July 27.