Seungri had an exclusive in-depth interview with Joseon Ilbo on March 22, where he personally talked about the scandal surrounding him and Burning Sun. He talked about Burning Sun, Yuri Holdings, members of the chatroom including Jung Joon Young and Choi Jonghoon, and much more. Koreaboo has translated Seungri’s entire interview, his longest and most in-depth interview since the scandal broke out.
He first apologized for his actions, and once again stated how no one will believe him, even if he tells the truth.
I am sorry and ashamed of myself. It was wrong of me to be involved in inappropriate businesses as a public figure.
Right now, no matter what I say, no one will believe me. Even though I was cleared of charges by the police investigation, people swear by the idea that I bribed the police to say that. I am not in a position where I can strongly state my opinion, but I want to explain because the news about Burning Sun are becoming much different than the facts that I know of.
Seungri then talked about Burning Sun, and how he is known as the owner of the club, which in his mind, is not the truth. He also talked about his friend and Burning Sun CEO, Lee Moon Ho, and how he offered Seungri to help run the club.
I think that is because I revealed that I conduct the operations of all of my businesses, and personally work on them on MBC’s I Live Alone. There are many clubs in Gangnam and among them all, Burning Sun wanted to attract foreign tourists and younger customers. It was not just for the club side, but also for the hotel (Le Méridien Seoul). It’s true that it was promoted with my name attached to it, and I think it was also misunderstood because I said it was something I ran on broadcast.
I liked to DH and enjoyed visiting the club, so I thought Lee Moon Ho’s offer of helping out Burning Sun was not bad. Even though I thought there could be a problem operating a club in a hotel, I still did participate in it.
The ownership breakdown of Burning Sun is as follows: 42% share by the owners of Le Méridien Seoul, 8% share by Lee Sung Hyun, who is CEO of Le Méridien Seoul, 20 % share by Yuri Holdings, 20% share by a Taiwanese investor known as Madam Lin, and 10% by Lee Moon Ho.
Everyone who was involved with Burning Sun, regardless of their position was wrong. As a public figure, there should should not have been so many incidents at my bar. We should have directly looked into whether the club’s activities were going well.
He then talked about how he got involved with Yoo In Suk, former CEO of Yuri Holdings as well as Lee Moon Ho, CEO of Burning Sun.
I joined forces with Yoo In Suk because I was busy with my entertainment activities. I had a 40% share in Yuri Holdings, Yoo In Suk had a 40% share, and Lee Moon Ho had a 20% share. I was in charge of the entertainment and catering businesses, while Yoo In Suk was in charge of investments and finances. Lee Moon Ho was in charge of publicity, such as CF’s. At first, Yoo In Suk opposed investing in Burning Sun, because investments kept on going towards ‘pleasure’ areas. But I insisted that I wanted to do it. I am very sorry that Yoo In Suk got involved in this.
I learned about Lee Moon Ho when I went to a club called ARENA 5 years ago. Lee Moon Ho was the MD who led the team called PULSE. Many of ARENA’s sales staff and guests believe in him, and followed him. Because I knew a lot about Gangnam clubs, I suggested that we try to open one together, and we opened the lounge bar called Monkey Museum in 2016. When that didn’t work out as well as we hoped, Lee Moon Ho proposed to open Burning Sun.
Among the different projects Yuri Holdings invested in, it is true I ran the Ramen business (Aori Ramen). Since Burning Sun is an entertainment business, it would not have been easy for me to run it. There were more than 300 employees. The two CEO’s, Lee Sung Hyun and Lee Moon Ho, were responsible for all of the internal management, from accounting to employees.
I never attended a meeting regarding Burning Sun, never received an employee list, or received a direct payment from them. I was really just the face. All I did was lend my name to Burning Sun, and invest 10 million won through Yuri Holdings.
Seungri then talked about Burning Sun’s ties with the police, and Lee Moon Ho’s drug usage.
I have never been told in person about the incidents that happened at Burning Sun. I was belatedly informed through information that was relayed through my acquaintances. The case regarding minors being allowed into the club happened in July 2018. In November, an acquaintance heard a story about how Lee Moon Ho didn’t get money from the police broker, Mr. Kang, so he tried to tie up Mr. Kang, Burning Sun, and me. I asked Lee Moon Ho about this, and he just said there was no problem.
When I heard that Lee Moon Ho was using drugs, I asked him several times about it. He said he didn’t do them every time I asked. I was surprised to see his tests turn up positive. All I did was go to Burning Club once a week to DJ. I never ran on-site operations or watched closely on what the customers did, so I had no reason to know what the management was doing.
Seungri explained that he quit his position as a director of Burning Sun before the assault cases, and claimed he was also a victim of Burning Sun’s misdeeds.
Because of my upcoming military service, I was cleaning up my roles in my businesses. To be honest, I didn’t know anything at all [regarding the assaults] so I could not come forward to say anything. I think the initial responses made by Burning Sun were wrong. I asked Lee Moon Ho about it, but he just said not to worry about it, both parties were involved in the assault. Since then, there have been a series of sexual assault and date rape videos coming out. Even I was confused about the truth.
I am also a victim as a shareholder in Burning Sun, I did not know anything about how the business was run [regarding the tax evasion accusations].
He then talked about his lavish birthday party in the Philippines in December 2017, and how the accusations of having prostitutes and drugs have made him scared.
It is true that I went on a trip with my female friends. I like the partying culture, and I like to party with both men and women. I told my close female friends, both younger and older, to come and party for my birthday party. However, all of them are now under suspicion for allegations of prostitution. Honestly, it wasn’t anything like that, so I have my regrets. I ‘m afraid that everything I’ve done in my life up to now has become a suspicion.
My drug tests were negative. In 2016, the prosecutor’s office brought a warrant to my home and did a drug test on me. I submitted more than 100 strands of hair from all over my body, including my head, armpit, pubic hair, and legs. I also underwent a urine test. All of them came out negative.
Seungri then talked about the contents of the Kakaotalk messages from Jung Joon Young’s phone, which he claimed to be fabricated. These contents included his alleged prostitution solicitation messages.
This was in 2015. Can you remember what kinds of Kakaotalk messages you sent 3 years ago? I really don’t remember it. I couldn’t believe it. I said this kind of thing? Each conversation had no time the message was sent, or no context before or after the message. I thought it definitely could have been fabricated.
Regarding the messages where I said ‘give them the easy girls’, I found out that that message was supposedly sent when I was performing in Japan, and having a birthday party with my staff. Honestly I can’t believe that I sent that message, I’m really embarrassed and ashamed.
The foreigner was a Singaporean female by the name of Kimmy. She is the daughter of a famous foreign soccer team owner. She is not a foreign investor. Mr. Kim, who was in the same chatroom as us, said he was in Korea and wanted to go to ARENA quietly. He said Kimmy gave us a lot of help, so we should take care of her.
As for Yoo In Suk saying ‘prepare the prostitutes’, one of the girls he called was referred to as ‘Suzy’. She used to be the girlfriend of Mr. Park, who was part of the chatroom. It was said to call some women to party with Kimmy. The women at the club were also summoned by police, and personally said they were not prostitutes.
He then talked about Monkey Museum’s tax evasion, claiming that the club was losing money every month, so there would be no reason to illegally register the place.
There was even a photo studio in the neighborhood where we opened Monkey Museum, and that’s how they did it. What kind of problem would we have? That’s what we talked about. But afterwards, we were told that we would be in trouble if we ran Monkey Museum that way, and we even went to the district office to confirm. We were told that if we were lucky, we wouldn’t be caught. But if we were unlucky, we would be caught. So after re-checking the legal codes, we changed the interior.
However, on the day of the opening ceremony, there were more eyes on the club, the lights that were hanging were stronger, and the club was caught. But the police said that all the lounges in the Cheongdam area did it this way, so it was okay. Everyone was running their bars or lounges like this for the past 3-5 years without getting caught. Everyone did it, so I didn’t know what to do.
Monkey Museum had a huge deficit. It was only profitable for the first 3 months after opening, but I never received a share of the money, and just used it to keep buying alcohol. Soon the deficit grew to 30 million won every month. By the time Monkey Museum closed, we were losing 50 million won a month.
Seungri went on to talk about the “Police Chief”, only identified as Police Superintendent Yoon.
I don’t know him well. In early 2017, Yoo In Suk said he had a good hyung he knew, and I went to meet him. When I asked him who he was while we were eating meat at a hotel in Gangbuk, he said he was someone who works at the Blue House. Up until last winter, I met him 4 times.
We never talked about clubs. He mainly talked about history with the people around him, from World War 2 to Genghis Khan to the Rothschild family. I knew he was working at the Blue House but I didn’t know he was a policeman. I did not play golf with him, Yoo In Suk, and Choi Jonghoon. I didn’t know much about him.
Superintendent Yoon poiinted out our wrongdoings by telling Yoo In Suk ‘Hey, you shouldn’t operate a business like that.’ We took what he said, corrected our mistakes, and we still got a punishment. We never asked for a lighter punishment. Now there is no one who believe that this is the truth.
Regarding former FTISLAND member Choi Jonghoon’s drunk driving case, he revealed it was actually his manager that made sure the press didn’t hear about the situation, not Yoo In Suk.
After he was caught drunk driving, Choi Jonghoon called Yoo In Suk to let him know about the situation. Yoo In Suk then called me to let me know the situation. Yoo In Suk said that if he already took the breathalyzer test, it would be over. The reading would be over the legal limit.
But I heard that Choi Jonghoon’s manager asked the police for a favor, that he should be investigated early in the morning where there would be no reporters. That’s why his case didn’t make it to the press, but it was believe Yoo In Suk handled it for him. The chats that say he worked hard and a lot of money was spent, that was all a bluff.
Seungri said he even tried to persuade Jung Joon Young to not film or share the illegal hidden camera videos.
The things in the Kakaotalk chat rooms, aren’t they about my life? Why didn’t I stop it? I told Jung Joon Young to stop doing things like [taking hidden camera videos], he could get in big trouble. I didn’t just say that to Jung Joon Young, I told everyone in the chatroom. It’s just I did not say it in the chatroom itself. The public has been suspecting everything that is in the chatroom, but what about conversations that happened through phone calls? Or conversations that we held in person? The public wouldn’t know what was said.
Finally, Seungri called for a fair investigation, and for the public not to judge until the full investigation results come to light.
Many Koreans are angry. Last year on broadcast, I said how I don’t lend my name to things like other celebrities, I do business myself. But when the Burning Sun incident happened, it seemed like I was hiding and the people who supported me must have been disappointed. If the trust disappears and many people feel betrayed, I think all their anger will be concentrated towards me. How am I supposed to live for the future when the investigation results have not yet been released? Even if I am cleared of charges, people will call it police collusion, saying I got help from higher-up. I have to live the rest of my life as a man of suspicion. There was clear evidence in the case of Jung Joon Young, so his crimes were uncovered. But my image has been tarnished by these private conversations being revealed. I regret having exchanged such messages and will reflect on myself, but those were private conversations.
I keep wondering if I should be the target of such investigations. The investigations are at such an intense pace right now, detectives are very sensitive to the public reception and media reports. The detectives are even investigating on the premise that the media reports are evidence and truths. Look at the news. When I reveal what I know about the situation, I constantly question and confirm what I am about to say. I thought it would be possible for the investigations to be conducted with a level-head.
The stories are weird now. Let’s say I said the drugs, sexual favors, and police collusion was all true. Then the police will be criticized for their collusion, If the collusion was true, those officers would be accused of corruption. Then neither the investigation agencies nor the police being investigated would remain level-headed. After the investigations, everything I say comes out as an article, so I don’t know where to start at the next investigations. What I’m trying to say is, not everything I say has to be reported. It’s a frustrating situation.
My only wish is that the investigations be carried out fairly. I have noticed that there are people trying to connect many parties together, trying to find a link between YG Entertainment, Choi Soon Shil, BIGBANG, Kim Hak Eui, Hwang Gyo An, and more. I an a celebrity, I don’t know them (Choi Soon Shil, Kim Hak Eui, Hwang Gyo An). This accident happened in connection with many entertainment venues. It’s scary to see them try and create a whole new frame by involving politicians. There is the truth, and there are lies. I am currently cooperating with investigations. I would be grateful if everyone would remain calm,subdue their anger until the investigation results are revealed, and judge the results without bias.