It's no surprise that Korean rappers C Jamm and Bill Stax are in hot water after being arrested for cannabis use recently. Cannabis consumption continues to be illegal as well as highly stigmatized in South Korea, and the social backlash can be enough to tank your career.
Here are 5 K-Pop stars who have been arrested for cannabis use in their home country.
1) Shin Joong-hyun
Legendary Korean guitarist Shin Joong-hyun isn't actually a K-Pop artist, but this is where Korean music's destructive relationship with cannabis really begins. Sometimes referred to as the 'Godfather of Korean Rock Music' he was a major part of bringing the psychedelic sound of San Fransisco to Korea in the 60s and 70s.
But in 1975 Shin Joong-hyun was arrested for marijuana possession, tortured in prison and placed in a psychiatric hospital. Even after he was released, his music was banned from radio play and his live performances were largely blacklisted. It wasn't until the 90s that his career began to pick up again.
2) Crown J
Crown J, who's real name is Kim Kye-hoon, was arrested for cannabis use after he returned home from the United States in 2010. He was charged with smoking marijuana while he was recording an album in Atlanta. That's right: it's illegal for South Koreans to consume cannabis even outside the country.
After pleading guilty to the charges many of his fans were left devastated.
For Westerners, Psy is likely the most well-known K-Pop artist on this list. But his history with cannabis isn't talked about very much. The charges actually go back to 2001, shortly after the release of his first album. He was jailed for 25 days, received a fine and his music was not allowed to be sold to minors for a time.
But it doesn't look like this little blemish is hurting Psy's career too much these days:
Choi Seung-hyun - better known as T.O.P. - is one of 2 rappers featured in the highly successful group Big Bang. Just last year he was sentenced to 10 months in jail and a 2-year suspension from his mandatory military duty (maybe not so disappointing for Mr. Choi Seung-hyun). With any luck he'll be able to pick back up once the scandal dies down.
5) C Jamm
C Jamm's arrest comes as the most recent on this list, having been announced just yesterday. The reality TV contestant and rapper was arrested for allegedly smoking marijuana multiple times at his house between May 2015 and April 2018. A court mandated drug test has also come back positive.
As well, a post on his Instagram account claims that he will be finishing his new album before he is incarcerated, which caused public backlash.
"I was waiting for his album, but now I don’t even want to listen to it," wrote one enraged fan in response to the Instagram post. "I thought he was supposed to be in jail. Why did they let him out?" wrote another. But the worst came from the user who responded by telling C Jamm, "Your life is a lie…"
Times Are Changing
Despite the largely negative emotions harbored against cannabis in South Korea, there does seem to be some progress happening. In February, Member of the South Korean National Assembly Shin Chang-Hyun introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. Under the bill cannabis would still be quite difficult to obtain, but patients could receive prescriptions to treat certain conditions. And like any piece of cannabis legislation, it has its supporters and detractors.