Korean Mogul Implicates ‘Gangnam Star’ Psy in K-Pop Prostitute Scandal

PSY performs onstage during the 'All Night Stand 2015' on December 24, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Psy, the South Korean pop superstar best known in the Western world for international 2012 hit “Gangnam Style,” denied being involved in a sprawling prostitution scandal ensnaring the head of the gigantic record label YG Entertainment.

A South Korean investigative news program broadcast evidence on Monday that Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and CEO of YG entertainment, hosted a dinner party in July 2014 attended by Malaysian multimillionaire Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and an unnamed Thai individual that devolved into a night of partying and soliciting prostitution. They claimed the men engaged over ten prostitutes “from an adult entertainment establishment with close ties to YG.”

The program, MBC’s Straight, also interviewed a woman who claimed a Thai man raped her in a club affiliated with YG, Burning Sun. They identified another club, BN, as the setting for the allegations of soliciting prostitution.

Low has long been on the radar of those who follow entertainment news, as he has for years used his fortune to party with both South Korean and Western celebrities. Malaysian authorities recently indicted him in a sprawling corruption scandal tied to former Prime Minister Najib Razak, alleging that he had a hand in laundering billions of dollars.

The explosive allegations arrive on the heels of the retirement of Seungri, a member of one of YG Entertainment’s most prominent acts, Big Bang, following months of allegations that he solicited prostitutes for Japanese investors.

The Jakarta Post reported:

According to the allegations, Yang and a singer affiliated with the label [YG Entertainment] bought dinner at an upscale Korean restaurant in a posh district of southern Seoul. Accompanying them were 25 women and eight men. Of the women, more than 10 were prostitutes from a well-known adult entertainment establishment that has close ties with YG.

After dinner, they moved to a club called NB, where Yang is a de facto owner, and sexual services were provided there, the video suggested.

Through a publicist, Low said that he met Yang through mutual friend Psy but insisted that he “was never involved in, nor aware of, any conduct of the kind alleged in the MBC Straight report.”

A spokesman for YG Entertainment initially called the allegations “groundless.” On Thursday, YG issued a statement denying the allegations but admitting that Yang did attend a dinner party with the two individuals named and Psy, who he claimed introduced him to Low.

“Yang Hyun Suk only attended after being invited. It is not true that he called adult entertainment workers. We sincerely ask that you take extra care to prevent speculative reports that are not the truth from being published, distorted, or reproduced,” the statement read.

South Korean media also reported that Yang sent a letter to YG employees calling the claims “absolutely not true.”

By Friday, a spokesperson for the company issued a statement also confirming the presence of prostitutes at the event, but said Yang did not call them.
“It is true that there were around ten prostitutes that evening. Prostitutes from various different places were present. And even under the circumstances where sexual intercourse took place that night, it most likely just happened naturally. None of it was planned or intentionally organized,” the spokesperson said, adding that Yang never helped the businessmen access illegal sexual services.

Psy surfaced on Friday, apologizing for the scandal in an Instagram post. He admitted to being at the party.

“I met him when I was performing overseas and he was active in Hollywood. I introduced him to Yang. Whether he is a good man or not, it is a fact that he was a friend of mine,” he wrote.

“When Jho Low and his friends visited Korea, Yang and I were invited to a dinner with them. We had the meal and drinks with other guests, and Yang and I left the table early,” Psy said. “At the time, I just thought it was a dinner gathering with a friend from afar. I apologize for causing concern.”

Psy denied any involvement in prostitution or illegal activity.

The scandal arrived as Psy prepared a media blitz in his home country to promote his ninth album, the first in two years. It will be his first album outside of the auspices of YG, which he left last year to launch his own record label. YG, meanwhile, continues to struggle to overcome its tarnished images after Seungri left the music business following months of allegations against him for soliciting prostitution.

In early May, South Korean police announced that they had requested an arrest warrant from the court against Seungri. In addition to allegedly arranging prostitution services for wealthy clients as a member of the board of the Burning Sun club, located in the glitzy Gangnam district that gave Psy’s hit its name, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that he stands accused of embezzling money from the club. When the original charges dropped in April, Seoul police said that Seungri was also implicated in illegal drug use and “sexual violence” at the club.

“The two suspects [Seungri and an accomplice] appear to have jointly arranged sexual services and embezzlement, and there has been suspicion they attempted to destroy evidence,” a Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) official told Yonhap.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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