“I treated it as not a big deal without thinking that it is a crime and illegal act,” he wrote, as per Soompi’s translation. He later added, “Although I knew of what was happening during that time, I thought of it as not a big deal and acted at ease. I was a silent bystander about this severe issue where several more victims may have arisen due to my actions.”
The post also addressed how he had previously denied rumors that he was involved in the ongoing investigation surrounding chatroom conversations within which Jung, former BIGBANG member Seungri, and others discussed numerous illegal and illicit situations together. According to Yong, he misunderstood prior inquiries, prompting his label, Around Us Entertainment, to previously issue a denial of his involvement with the ongoing controversy.
Yong also wrote in his post that he was participating in the ongoing investigation, and expressed an apology to the four other members of HIGHLIGHT and his fans. “I do not want any further harm to be done to my fans and members who must have been disappointed because of me, so I will leave the group HIGHLIGHT as of March 14, 2019. I will live while reflecting on myself again and again. I once again apologize sincerely.”
Shortly after Yong’s post, Around Us Entertainment issued a similar statement confirming his departure from HIGHLIGHT. In it, the company also stated that Yong had been involved in direct conversations with Jung, rather than was a participant in the controversial group chat.
Yong is the fourth known celebrity involved in a widespread series of investigations into corrupt and illicit practices in the Korean entertainment and nightlife industries, and potential corruption in police forces. Beginning at the end of January, a video clip of violence and abuse of power taking place at a Gangnam club, Burning Sun, prompted investigations into illegal activities allegedly taking place there; Seungri (Lee Seunghyun) served as the public relations director of the business. Over the next few weeks, more and more information filtered out and, at the end of February, messenger app chatroom conversations obtained by SBS funE reporter Kang Kyung Yoon revealed a circle of male entertainers involved in illicit activities. A major element revolved around them sharing illegally filmed videos of sexual content. Illegal spy cameras in both public and private locations are an epidemic in South Korea, and last year prompted a protest where women rallied against their lives and bodies being turned into sexual content.
This week has seen a reckoning for several men associated with the chats: On Monday (March 11), Seungri was booked on sexual bribery charges after a chat conversation depicted the star coordinating the supply of prostitutes to potential investors for his business ventures. He announced his retirement from the industry that day, and on Wednesday (March 13) YG Entertainment severed ties with him. On Tuesday (March 12), screenshots from chats prompted Jung to admit to filming multiple women in sexual situations without their consent and sharing the footage with others, and he too was booked by the police; Wednesday saw his agency, MakeUs Entertainment, also terminate its contract with him. Also on Wednesday, FTISLAND’s Choi Jonghoon was revealed, also through the chat conversations, to have allegedly benefited from police favoritism to cover up a drunk driving incident. This prompted the National Police Agency Commissioner General Min Gap-ryong to issue a statement on Wednesday that it is holding an internal investigation to investigate claims that a high-ranking police official was corroborating with the men. On Thursday, Choi reportedly left FTISLAND.