[OP-ED This post reflects the opinions of the author and not those of allkpop.]
I am sure by now everyone has heard about iKON’s B.I and in case you haven’t, you can read this extremely detailed and well-written summary of the entire YG situation written by Dazed. While I think Dazed did an extremely good job explaining the whole situation happening with YG, this op-ed is meant to focus solely on B.I, also known as Kim Hanbin and what happened to him, and why he definitely deserves everyone’s support.
To summarize what happened to Hanbin, it started when Dispatch broke ‘news’ about having evidence from his past Kakao chat from 2016 of him speaking to ‘Person A’ to buy drugs (LSD). In this report that dispatch released, they also claimed that through the chat, Hanbin had mentioned he and ‘Person A’ that he was texting had done drugs together in the past. The report then goes on to say that ‘Person A’ then helped Hanbin to purchase a large number of drugs and even personally delivered the drugs to B.I’s dorm. The reason behind how Dispatch got hold of this information is because ‘Person A’ was arrested for smoking marijuana and the police then got hold of her phone and found her past chat with iKON’s B.I. The police, however, did not do anything about it. Dispatch then published a report accusing iKON’s leader of doing drugs in the past and claims the police knew about it but didn’t do anything about it. YG Entertainment did refute the claims at first but shortly after, Hanbin took to his own personal Instagram to apologize to fans with a post. He confessed that he did in fact attempt to buy drugs because he was going through a very tough and dark part of his life but he didn’t go through with it because he was afraid. He ended off his note by explaining that he will be leaving the group immediately to reflect on his actions and apologizing to his fans and members. YG also soon confirmed his departure from the group releasing a statement about terminating his contract mere hours from when the news broke.
With everything going down so quickly within a very short timespan, it was extremely overwhelming for iKON fans from all around the world. Since there are many issues with this entire case, I hope that in this article we can discuss and address them.
Firstly, I think there is a big problem with Dispatch and how far they go regarding the person they are investigating's privacy. I am not extremely clear with what violates PDPA laws in Korea, but it seems that surely what Dispatch has done in multiple cases is a large violation of privacy. Also, with Hanbin coming out to say his side of his story, it seems like they have accused him falsely of something he didn’t even do, defaming his reputation. This is not the first time that Dispatch has released news that resulted in the general public questioning their means. Another example would be when they expose celebrity couples like with their ‘New Years’ Couple’ which they reveal at the start of each year. The way they get this information is usually through underhanded methods like by stalking the celebrities for months. There is also a rumor that Dispatch will not actually reveal such information without running it by the companies they have the information on first. However, Dispatch apparently only does this so that they can request a sum of money from said companies to stop the information from going out and apparently they will release the information if the company doesn't want to pay to make the news go away (which sounds a little like blackmail). While everyone has to agree that Dispatch does harm to some of these celebrities that they release information on, there are also some positive sides to Dispatch at times. Using their resources, Dispatch has helped to expose illegal and harmful acts in the past and helped to bring perpetrators of crime to justice in previous cases. In Hanbin’s case, however, they defamed him by spreading a false rumor and this ended up in him having to leave his company and the group that he cared about the most and has worked so hard for the past 5 years.
Next, let’s look at YG entertainment. I am sure that everyone also knows that YG entertainment has been in a lot of trouble lately. Since the start of 2019, YG has suffered hit after hit being surrounded by some of the worst drugs and sex scandals in the Kpop industry to date. While YG's former CEO, Yang Hyun Suk would still defend his artist in the past, fans were outraged at how fast he was to drop Hanbin and his contract with the label. This is also something I find extremely ridiculous. Kim Hanbin didn’t do anything wrong, he was a young boy who considered doing something bad and yet, when the news of this broke, instead of protecting his artist, Hanbin was dropped faster than any other artist was in the past. Yang Hyun Suk probably did this because his company could not afford to take yet another potential hit since it was already surrounded with scandals regarding drugs at this time. However, it is still extremely upsetting to see how Hanbin was not even considered through all of this because one small decision like this will definitely affect not only his career but also the career of the other 6 members of iKON who has lost an extremely valuable and indispensable member of their group. This was an extremely selfish move by YG in an attempt to protect the company.
I, along with hundreds and thousands of other people, think that Hanbin didn’t do anything wrong to deserve the termination of his contract. While I think that drugs are obviously bad and we should not be promoting the use of it nor condoning celebrities doing them in an illegal setting, Hanbin merely thought of doing drugs. He said it himself that he was going through a tough time and at that time, he thought that drugs could be a solution to rely on to get away from everything. But the main thing was that he didn’t do it in the end because he was afraid. In 2016, Hanbin was just 19. A 19-year-old boy who had to take on the responsibility of leading his group (which had little to no backing/support from YG at that time) and he thought about doing drugs because he was put in a tough situation with a lot to deal with. The fact that he made a wise and responsible decision not to do something that will hurt his mind and body should be celebrated. But instead, he got kicked out his company for merely having a thought about doing something bad. It makes no sense for Hanbin to be treated like this by his company. If people were to be punished for just thinking about doing something bad, the whole world would be in jail by now.
Also, I just want to add that there is so much evidence to back up Kim Hanbin’s amazing character that proves him to be not only an extremely kind leader but a good-natured person in general. Hanbin is not the oldest in iKON but he chooses to take up responsibility and step up to the position of a leader because he felt personally responsible for each one of the iKON members. As their leader, he also made sure his members come first, he thinks about the well-being of his members before his own needs. He is the type of person to be the first in the studio and the last to leave because he’s constantly busy thinking about how he can improve himself and work on the songs to better fit his members. He guided and trained the weaker members and believed in his team even when they didn’t even believe in themselves. The reason why I am explaining all this is that all his hard work and the hours of dedication he placed into bringing iKON to where they are at today is for naught since YG choose to terminate his contract and remove him from iKON without sparing a thought for Hanbin as a person. It is extremely unfair because Hanbin was one of the main reasons behind iKON’s current success, being the person who produced most of iKON’s entire discography. Hanbin is the blood and soul of iKON and it is not fair that he was removed from the group with such little consideration.
What does this mean for Hanbin now? Many fans have signed a petition to urge the new management of YG to reconsider and take Hanbin back into iKON. However, perhaps what is most disheartening is that Hanbin has not only been removed from YG entertainment but will also be edited out the upcoming programs that he has recently filmed for such as ‘Law of the Jungle’ and ‘Grand Buda-Guest’. All of Korean Media, in general, seems to be painting Hanbin in a bad light even though it makes no sense for him to be criticized and faulted for a mistake he didn’t even do.
The case for the ‘Person A’ that Hanbin spoke to in 2016, who was revealed to be former YG trainer, Han Seo Hee, is still currently being fought but we can only hope the part of the case involving Hanbin will soon be completely cleared and that he would not be dragged into it anymore.
Whether or not Hanbin is eventually reinstated back into iKON or not, please do continue to support Kim Hanbin wherever he may take his career to. It is evident that Kim Hanbin did nothing wrong and it is with the hope that Korean Media will soon see this as well and start to clear his name.