2NE1's Park Bom has been belatedly revealed to have tried to smuggle drugs into Korea.
However, it has been revealed that the prosecutors (back in 2010) decided to suspend her case, meaning they would neither investigate nor punish her for the crime. This news has left many wondering why she was let off so easily and whether it was due to her celebrity status.
According to prosecutors on the 30th, Park Bom was caught back on October 12, 2010, trying to use international mail (Fedex) to smuggle 82 pills of amphetamines from the United States, but it was caught by customs at the Incheon International Airport.
Although the drug is used for medical treatment purposes in some countries, in other countries it is heavily regulated or sometimes outright banned. It is a strong central nerve system stimulant, and can cause a lot of harm to the body when abused.
Its use is banned by a Presidential decree in Korea and some other countries. Because its chemical structure is similar to methamphetamine, it is usually considered as methamphetamine when sentences are being dealt out in the country.
She was originally caught by customs, and it was reported to the Incheon District Prosecutors. The pills were scheduled to be delivered to the address of a relative and the package recipient was in the name of Park Bom's relative. The prosecution discovered the package was meant for Park Bom after investigations at the receiving address.
The case was officially registered on October 19th. However, 42 days later on November 30th, the prosecutors decided to suspend the case. Case suspensions for cases where there is a charge, but there is no need to book the case. When cases are booked, a suspected person's status changes to a criminal suspect.
It's the first time that the prosecutors have given such an indulgence to a for drug related crimes. Park Bom avoided all punishment because of this, and many are wondering why they decided to just let her go.
A prosecutor with experience in drug investigations said, "Even if it is their first time, amphetamine smugglers are held and investigated by rule, and I cannot understand what the logic behind not even booking her case was.There are cases where drug criminals are first booked and then the cases are suspended, but I've never heard of a case where it wasn't even registered."
Segye Ilbo tried to contact Prosecutor Shin, who was in charge of the case, but he was unable to be contacted. He has since left the Incheon Prosecutor Office.
YG Entertainment had said they were planning to release an official statement through the press, but it seems they have decided to address fans and the public through a personal letter from Yang Hyun Suk instead. He wrote:
"Hello, this is Yang Hyun Suk. I wanted to explain about the report of misunderstanding that had suddenly spread yesterday night.
"Why is this being explained through Yang Hyun Suk's letter and not as an official YG statement?
"To be accurate, the content in the article was something that happened 4 years ago, and something that I was first told of then when Park Bom's parents came to us and told us that they had been investigated, and also about a shocking incident Bom had experienced in the past and her medical history. So until all this, all of YG as well as the 2NE1 members had no knowledge of this.
"That's why I thought that rather than to have YG, which doesn't really know the situation, release an official statement, it is better for me, who directly heard of all this [from Bom's parents], to tell you about it.
"Your feelings about the article as a producer?
"If you combine the training years, then the amount of time I've been with 2NE1 is 9 years. The 2NE1 members I have watched over for 9 years do not smoke... do not drink much... and seems to me to have never once gone out to hang out at a club besides for official events. At least from what I know, that's how it is... and also because I've never heard of rumors of that sort from those around me.
"But the Bom that I know to be this way has suddenly become overnight a 'drug smuggler' according to the article's title. It's absurd and shocking that I don't know what to start off saying? Should I be explaining this absurdity? Will that end up making this situation even bigger?
"It's true that these did momentarily present a concern. However, for all the fans of 2NE1, who are currently on their world tour... for the silly and dongseng-like Bom who became a drug smuggler overnight, I thought that I couldn't just sit back and watch.
"What is the truth?
"As fans already know, Park Bom spent a long time in the U.S. before 2NE1 debut, and she has said that there was a time when she dreamed of becoming a soccer player.
"However, she directly witnessed a close friend dying during a game, and after that, Bom had spent difficult days as she fell into sorrow and shock that was difficult for her to handle at a young age.
"After that, she spent several years receiving psychological counseling and treatment and used drugs that were prescribed to her by a famous university hospital in the U.S.
"After that incident, Park Bom was no longer able to continue on with soccer, and after changing her dreams to that of becoming a singer, she came to Korea and participated in the YG audition. It's a day I remember clearly.
"The reason that I remember Park Bom among the numerous audition contestants is because as soon as I saw her, she had boldly stated, "If it's not YG, I'm not going to be a singer."
"Although she didn't pass that audition, she came again the year after that and she didn't make it again, but in her third year, she qualified in first place among the thousands that had participated, so I think that is why Park Bom remains clear in my memory.
"The reason why I am talking about these seemingly irrelevant matters is that considering that I did not know that she played soccer or about her medical history until her father told me 4 years ago, even though it's been 11 years since I first saw Bom, and that she's never brought this up to her members, it seems clear that this is a painful memory that Bom doesn't want to bring back.
"Up until 4 years ago, Bom had been using the medication that she had been formally prescribed by the university hospital in the U.S., but because she could not go to the States due to her busy schedule, in the process of receiving the medication from her mom and grandmother, it had become a problem because it is a medication that is prohibited in Korea.
"But luckily, her medical record over the past several years and her prescription from the university hospital were received and submitted during the investigation, so it was an event that was safely and soundly wrapped up with every evidence being provided.
"It's said [the drug] has narcotic properties, did they know of this?
"In common sense, what mother and grandmother would go get their daughter and grandmother narcotics? Especially in a world like today when most medications need prescriptions, how many people know of what kind of properties a medication has?
"Like I mentioned through my appearance on 'Healing Camp' before, I have to carry around a sedative and take it on a daily basis because of my panic attacks, but I am not curious about what properties make up that medication and even if someone told me, I wouldn't understand very well.
"In the case of Bom, she only knew that the medication she took in the States was not available in Korea. It doesn't seem she understood that it was a medication that was prohibited in Korea. After realizing this after the investigation 4 years ago, from what I know, she has been using another medication prescribed by a university hospital in Korea.
"Because they've been busy with their world tour, I haven't seen Park Bom in a while either, but I ran into her when she came out to the office to record last night and saw her shed tears throughout the night because of the articles coming out.
After seeing her this way, I feel torn that it has come to a situation where I have to explain a past that Bom does not want to reveal.
"I want to wrap up my words as I apologize for bringing about worry to many of you. I will greet you again with happy news soon. Thank you.
"Yang Hyun Suk"