BIGBANG’s T.O.P Got Overdosed?
Who doesn’t know BIGBANG? A boy band that has received a lot of attention ever since their very first debut with We Belong Together in 2006 under YG Entertainment. They were known as the Kings of K-Pop for their best-selling albums which made them the biggest boy band in the world. BIGBANG originally consisted of 5 members, G-Dragon (leader), T.O.P, Tae-yang, Dae-sung, and Seung-ri (who officially left the entertainment industry on March 11th, 2019). Each of them has his own uniqueness and style.
However, BIGBANG also became a band famous for their many scandals and controversies. Many of us have heard about Seung-ri’s recent big controversy that received international attention. But around two years before the controversy began, there was another controversy that came from his fellow member, T.O.P. He was accused of using marijuana and later was charged guilty. He was also found unconscious and was hospitalized for quite some time during his military enlistment. Some of you may wonder about how he got involved and the story of his survival during the critical condition. In this article, Channel-Korea will provide you with a rundown of T.O.P’s drug overdose scandal.
Charged with Illegal Drug Abuse
There was a piece of breaking news about BIGBANG’s T.O.P back on June 1st, 2017, around three months after he enlisted for military service. According to Channel A, he was said to have been accused of smoking marijuana. Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency revealed that T.O.P’s hair follicle showed a positive result and that he has used drugs in October 2016. The usage of marijuana itself is prohibited and counted illegal in South Korea. The police then revealed that T.O.P had smoked three times at his home in October 2016 with a female acquaintance. They received the tip of his hair in March 2017 while he was on training in a police station. The result was positive for marijuana use. T.O.P denied the allegation at first by saying he has only been smoking electronic cigarettes without knowing it was marijuana.
Soon after the incident, YG Entertainment issued a response regarding the case. In the statement, the agency confirmed about T.O.P being summoned for the investigation. They said that he cooperated diligently and the investigation has just finished. They also confirmed about T.O.P admitting most of the allegations during the investigation process. They apologized for worrying a lot of people. T.O.P then returned to his station and carried out his duties for the time being. The bandmaster of Seoul Metropolitan Police, Han Ma-jin, clarified about whether or not T.O.P would be transferred to another department. He said it had not been decided yet. He explained that T.O.P would be assigned a guard and would be restricted from leaving the base or doing any other activities. He added that T.O.P would be carrying out his duties until the court verdict has been made.
It was mentioned before that T.O.P smoked marijuana with a female acquaintance back in October 2016. The female acquaintance turned out to be Han So-hee, a former contestant from the MBC audition program Birth of The Great Star 3 in 2012 who then became a trainee under Source Music Entertainment and was said to debut with GFRIEND. The agency said that she was removed after a month due to personal matters and was not in contact with her for two years so they denied any involvement with this case. In March 2017, Han So-hee was arrested for smoking liquid marijuana three times. She also confessed and mentioned T.O.P’s name when she was asked whom she had the marijuana with. That was why the police started the investigation of T.O.P.
According to Japanese news outlet Daily Sports, his fellow member, G-Dragon, who was in the middle of BIGBANG’s fan meeting in Japan on June 3rd, 2017, apologized to the fans regarding the controversy. As cited by Koreaboo, he said in the beginning, “We are deeply regretful to have caused everyone to worry so much, due to what happened. As BIGBANG’s leader, I promise that nothing like this will ever happen again. Please continue to support us.” The fan meeting was attended by all members apart from T.O.P who was serving in the military service.
On June 4th, 2017, T.O.P made a hand-written letter about his marijuana incident which was revealed by his agency. As translated by Soompi, he apologized for causing disappointment and disturbance with his wrongdoing. He mentioned and emphasized his regret and feeling ashamed towards his members, the agency, the public, and the fans who have supported him. “Once more, I apologize for not being able to apologize to everyone personally. I will deeply repent my wrongdoing. I am very ashamed of myself. I apologize,” he ended.
The day after, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police, T.O.P would be prosecuted without detention. He had admitted two out of four instances of smoking marijuana. He denied the other two which referred to smoking liquid marijuana. The police also confirmed that he would be transferred due to his condition (he was deemed unfit for his current position) but the location still had yet to be decided. Soon after he got the official notice of prosecution, based on the police procedure, he would be dismissed from his new station and would be sent home during the prosecution time. The time being at home would not be counted to his mandatory service. If he was sentenced for 18 months, he would be forcibly discharged from the military service but if he was sentenced for less than 18 months, including not guilty, he would continue his military service after his release.
T.O.P Found Unconscious
Breaking news came on June 6th, 2017, from OSEN, as recited by Soompi, that T.O.P was found unconscious and was rushed to the hospital in the morning. It was reported that he was moved from the ER to the Intensive Care Unit at around 5 p.m. KST but still unconscious. Even though the results have yet to be announced, an acquaintance suspected that T.O.P might have been overdosed after taking drug excessively. It was probably due to his stress brought about by the recent events that he broke at some point.
YG Statements and Police’s Updates
Not long after T.O.P’s news about being unconscious spread out, YG Entertainment clarified some details. They said that T.O.P had been taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he received intensive treatment. He said that T.O.P normally used tranquilizers but this time he took more than he usually does. They also added to keep waiting for the developments as they were still checking whether T.O.P has regained consciousness or not.
As cited by Soompi, a source from the police also gave a statement regarding T.O.P’s condition. The source stated that a day before, the artist was on standby in his platoon headquarters then took the tranquilizers at 10 p.m. KST before going to sleep. He was awake for breakfast at 7.30 a.m. the next day but he appeared to want to sleep again and, considering he was probably tired, he was allowed to continue sleeping. The source denied about T.O.P being unconscious and gave a clarification.
Around noon, the source said, T.O.P was sweating and was unable to wake up so he was taken to the emergency room where blood and urine test and CT scan test were performed. The source also stated that there was nothing wrong with the results, the artist responded well when his name was called and when he was pinched. They said that the artist was not in critical condition and that he was sleeping because there was a sleeping aid in his medication. “Once the medication is out of his system in one to two days, there will be no hindrance to his lifestyle,” they added.
When asked about T.O.P being in ICU, the source explained that it was in his best interest, knowing he’s a celebrity whose face was well-known and because of the controversy at the time. They said that if people gathered around him, he would not be able to get the proper treatment so it was decided to take him to the ICU to get isolated.
Meanwhile, another information regarding T.O.P’s condition had been spread. It was reported by Allkpop that an insider revealed the artist’s condition. They said that T.O.P was actually still unconscious in the ICU and the situation was monitored. Even if he was conscious, they added, it would be worrying too for them because of the brain damage he suffered as he was deprived of oxygen since the beginning. Another source from a media outlet also said that T.O.P suffered panic disorder, depression, and insomnia so he has been taking anti-depression medicine for a long time and that this time he took the same med as well.
T.O.P’s condition gained much attention on social media. According to Soompi, it was trending worldwide on Twitter with hashtag #StayStrongTOP. It was trended at number 2 at around 2 a.m. KST and stayed in the top three for quite some time. The hashtag was used not only by VIPs (BIGBANG’s fandom) but other fandoms as well, like ELF, SONE, ARMY, etc.
Updates About T.O.P’s Condition
Many sources have talked about T.O.P’s condition but they were reporting different and conflicting pieces of information. If it was mentioned that he was just asleep due to sleeping aid, there was also a rumor about him being in critical condition. A doctor from the Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital also said that he was in a very bad condition and unable to make eye contact. The doctor added that it might take a week for the artist to recover.
T.O.P’s Mother Was Furious
On June 6th, 2017, T.O.P’s mother expressed her anger towards the false information about her son’s condition to the media. His mother told the media that he was still unconscious and not “just sleeping.” She said that her son was actually in critical condition but she kept seeing the reports about him saying that he is just sleeping and that hurt her. According to Allkpop, his mother said, “The doctors told us that his tongue was drying and that he is lacking oxygen input so he could have problems with his brain. He has an oxygen mask over his nose right now.” She also clarified that when her son came to the hospital, he was unconscious and was still unconscious at the time of the interview.
It was later confirmed by the agency. They said that T.O.P’s mother was furious when she saw the police quote. They confirmed that the artist was still unconscious and that he was wearing an oxygen mask. They added that the visitation rights were restricted and only relatives were looking over him.
A Briefing Press By the Medical Team
Looking at the conflicting reports, on June 7th, 2017, T.O.P’s doctors decided to hold a briefing press at 4 p.m. KST to put more lights to the situation. According to Soompi, the briefing press was attended by Professor Kim Han-soo from the otolaryngology department (also the head of public relations), Professor Lee Deok-hee from the department of emergency medical and health services, Professor Kim Yong-jae from the department of neurology, and Professor Choi Hee-yeon from the department of mental health services.
They put more details about his condition and began by describing how the artist arrived at the hospital. It was said that he came on June 6th, 2017, at 12.34 p.m. KST and was carried by three persons, one holding his upper body and two holding his lower body. He was found to be between in a state of dee sleep and semiconsciousness. His blood pressure and heart rate were increased and he suffered from unstable breathing because he had a low level of oxygen and a high level of carbon dioxide. They believed it was a critical condition for him so they moved him to ICU at 4.50 p.m. KST.
They conducted a urine test and got the result that he was suffering from respiratory depression due to an overdose of prescribed tranquilizers. “His condition led to a high occurrence of respiratory failure, so we made the decision to treat him in the emergency intensive care unit, as he may require intubation. We were able to control his carbon dioxide levels, but he is still in a state of severe lethargy,” said Professor Kim Han-soo.
Professor Kim Yeon-jae explained that he would respond to a strong stimulus by opening his eyes but was unable to concentrate. This could lead to respiratory arrest or brain damage but they didn’t believe those would occur in T.O.P’s case. Professor Lee Deok-hee also explained about their further plan of treatment for the artist. He said that the medical team couldn’t determine the exact amount of the drug T.O.P had ingested and the recovery time depended on the patient’s age so they also couldn’t give the exact time frame. From the previous cases, the doctor said that younger patients with no complications would recover in approximately a week. “What is most important is the patient’s mental health,” he added.
Updates About T.O.P’s Condition and Date of First Trial
On June 8th, 2017, YG released an official statement about T.O.P’s condition. They apologized to those who were hurt and disappointed by T.O.P’s incident. They also said that the artist was accountable and would receive any apprehensions. They restated the statements from the previous briefing of the medical team about T.O.P’s condition. They also added that it was the third day of him receiving medical treatment in the ICU. The agency concluded by saying they would work hard to prevent similar events from happening in the future.
An official update was also given by the hospital. According to Soompi, at 9 a.m. it was confirmed that T.O.P was still in a state of severe lethargy. As the artist was not conscious, the department of neurology and the department of psychiatry could not conduct collaborative treatment. They would begin the treatment as soon as the artist regained consciousness. They also stated that there was no immediate threat to his life and would monitor him at least for a week before deciding whether he would be discharged from the hospital or moved to the general ward.
The same day, a source from Seoul Metropolitan Police said that T.O.P would receive the notification for prosecution in one day. As mentioned before, as soon as he received the notification, he would be removed from his position and would be sent home. Whether or not he would continue his enlistment depended on the length of his sentence. His first trial would take place on June 29th, 2017, at 11.30 a.m. KST at the Seoul Central District Court.
Earlier, according to Soompi, there was an update from his mother and his platoon leader. His mother was seen entering the ICU around 1 p.m. KST and leaving the room forty-five minutes later. She then met the media and was asked about his condition. “He has gotten better,” she replied. When she was asked about whether her son has made eye contact and recognized her, she replied shortly by saying, “Yes.” T.O.P’s platoon leader also gave an update by stating that the artist seemed to be able to communicate and recognized him as his platoon leader.
Later, another statement was revealed from a hospital source. The source said that T.O.P had regained consciousness and has been stabilized. He would be able to leave ICU around mid-day the day after that day. The artist was advised to transfer to the mental health department. The source also added that whether or not T.O.P would stay for further treatment in the current hospital was something to be decided by himself and his legal guardians.