BIGBANG member T.O.P apologized for marijuana use on Sunday, June 4, 2017. In a handwritten letter titled “apology,” T.O.P wrote, “This is Choi Seung Hyun. I would like to sincerely apologize for my wrongdoing, causing trouble and disappointment.

“I am too embarrassed to stand in public and apologize. I regret what I’ve done and feel distressed. I don’t have an excuse.

“I deserve a punishment for hurting the (BIGBANG) members, agency, public, fans, and family. My heart aches and I’m very disappointed in myself. I’ll regret this for thousands, tens of thousands of years.

“I won’t make another irresponsible mistake like this again. I am sorry for not apologizing to everyone in person. I’ll reflect on myself and my wrongdoing. I am so embarrassed of myself. I’m sorry.”

Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced on Thursday that T.O.P had been indicted with marijuana use in April. Below is a timeline of how the case evolved:

  • In March, Ms. Han, a 21-year-old K-pop trainee who was under investigation for marijuana use, states she used cannabis oil with BIGBANG's T.O.P at his place in Yongsan, Seoul, three times from October to December 2016.
  • Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency visits T.O.P at Gangnam Police Station to conduct a hair drug test. T.O.P has been serving there as a military police band member since Feb. 9. He receives a positive result, failing the test.
  • In April, Seoul police forwards T.O.P’s case to the prosecutors’ office. On June 1, the police shares that T.O.P is under investigation for violating national drug laws.
  • On June 2, T.O.P returns to Gangnam Police Station from a four-day vacation, surrounded by seven managers to hide himself from the reporters. Since then, T.O.P has locked himself up in the barrack, eating cup noodles there instead of the regular meals at a cafeteria, according to Yonhap News.
  • On June 4, T.O.P shares a handwritten apology through agency YG Entertainment. He is waiting for the prosecutors’ office’s decision on the case.

Unlike in the United States, both recreational and medical use is illegal in Korea. Smoking marijuana is a serious crime punishable for up to five years in prison or 50 million won (Roughly 50,000 USD). T.O.P might pay a fine like G-Dragon in 2011 or get jail time, depending on the cannabinoid concentration in hair.

If T.O.P gets jail time of a year and 6 months or more, he needs to re-enlist in the military. If the sentence is shorter, his enlistment maintains the status quo.

For the general population in Korea, drugs are rare to find and almost inaccessible. The notion of marijuana as a gateway drug hardly exists, and many would consider marijuana equally bad as hard drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin, possibly because the Korean word for drugs, ma-yak, encompasses all drugs from soft to hard.

On Saturday, the rest of BIGBANG members (G-Dragon, Taeyang, Seungri, and Daesung) got on stage at Kyocera dome in Osaka, Japan, and apologized for “making the fans worry.” G-Dragon ensured the fans, “We’ll make sure this never happens again.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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