KEY POINTS

  • Seungri pleaded guilty to nine charges, including habitual gambling and embezzlement
  • His jail sentence was reduced to one year and six months from three years
  • He has already served five months in jail

A South Korean court has reduced the jail sentence of former Bigbang member Seungri after he pleaded guilty to charges, including facilitating prostitution and embezzlement, in the 2019 "Burning Sun Scandal." 

South Korea's High Court for Armed Forces halved the 31-year-old former singer's jail sentence from three years to one year and six months, along with a fine of $994,544, Thursday.

The reduced sentence comes after Seungri expressed remorse for his actions in the scandal surrounding Seoul's Burning Sun nightclub, which he owned. Prosecutors said in July last year that the "Haru Haru" singer had "shown no remorse and shifted blame to other people despite enjoying large benefits from his crimes," the South China Morning Post reported.

During the original trial, Seungri, also known as Lee Seung-Hyun, pleaded not guilty to eight out of nine charges filed against him, except for the violations of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act. But in the appeal court, Seungri acknowledged all the charges against him, including violation of the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes Act, violation of the Food Sanitation Act, embezzlement, violation of the Special Cases Concerning the Punishment of Sexual Crimes Act, habitual gambling, prostitution mediation, purchase of prostitution services and special violence instigation.

He was sentenced in August 2021. He has already served five months in prison.

The "Bang Bang Bang" artist and the military prosecution did not appeal to the supreme court. So, if the appeal sentence is finalized, the former youngest member of one of South Korea's most popular boybands will be released after another 13 months, Soompi reported.

Seungri's trial and appeal took place in military courts because he had enlisted for South Korea's compulsory national service for men during that time.

Many people were disappointed with the court's decision to reduce Seungri's punishment. 

However, some fans believe Seungri took the fall when there were bigger fish involved in the case.

"It's not the fact that SK system denied all the proof of his innocence for three years straight, it's the fact that people who never kept up with the case, didn't care when the actual perpetrators got less jail time than him," one person wrote.

Once nicknamed "Korea's Great Gatsby" due to his extravagant lifestyle, Seungri announced his retirement from the entertainment industry in 2019 after he was booked under prostitution charges. The evidence came from leaked chatroom conversations on the Korean messaging app Kakaotalk, which was discovered by a technician who repaired singer Jung Joon-Young's phone. The latter was jailed in 2019 after he was charged with raping drunk unconscious women, BBC reported.

Seungri is accused of habitual overseas gambling at luxurious casinos in Las Vegas involving illicit foreign exchange transactions Seungri is accused of habitual overseas gambling at luxurious casinos in Las Vegas involving illicit foreign exchange transactions Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je