The ex-chief of YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun-suk, has been ruled not guilty of threatening an informant in order to cover up a drug scandal involving a singer-rapper.
The Seoul Central District Court on Thursday acquitted Yang of blackmailing and coercing a police source in an attempt to thwart investigations involving the agency's rapper, citing lack of evidence. Other officials of YG who had been indicted on the same charge was also acquitted.
"The victim's testimony is not credible, and there is not enough proof to confirm that the defendant (Yang) had threatened (the victim) with a direct and definable harm," the district court said in giving the verdict Thursday.
Pointing out the victim, a former trainee of YG, had continued to share illegal drugs with the agency's artists even after Yang's alleged blackmailing, the court did not accept that the fear of retaliation had prevented her from exercising her free will.
Yang was accused of intimidating the informant who had testified to the police about drug suspicions involving rapper B.I, the former leader of the label's boy band iKon. The victim had testified of B.I's drug use during the 2016 investigation but later changed her statements. She claimed she had been forced to give a false statement under coercion from Yang and other YG officials.
In a previous court hearing, the former YG CEO accepted he had come in contact with the victim but denied of blackmailing her to make a forced statement.
The prosecution in November had asked for three years of prison term for Yang.
YG Entertainment is the home to several global K-pop groups, including Blackpink and Big Bang. Yang, also the founder YG, resigned from his post as CEO following various scandals, including B.I's illicit drug purchase and drug use. In September, B.I was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four year. He did not appeal the decision.