“Why?” is the question that’s been tugging on everyone’s tail. With YG’s head president, Yang Hyun Suk, already releasing an official statement explaining their truth and stance, the public is still half in doubt. Then again, who wouldn’t be doubtful when a popular girl group member was allegedly being accused of “illegally smuggling” drugs? However, it has been confirmed that prosecutors decided to “close the case”, or in other words, release Park Bom. Though the misdemeanor was deemed to be true, a judgement was made that the crime was not a matter serious enough to carry through with a charge or further investigation.
This is where the doubt begins to form.
▶ “Did prosecutors give Park Bom a leeway investigation?” ◀
Park Bom embraced suspicion when she purchased medication from the United States and brought it back to Korea.
▶ “(If there was nothing to hide) Why did Park Bom have the packages sent to her grandmother’s home address in Incheon, South Korea?” ◀
This incident all happened four years ago. In October of 2010, 2NE1’s Park Bom was struck with internal investigations with a charge of smuggling an illegal substance. Then four years later today, the same incident became reignited. “Why Park Bom” and “Why the prosecutors” are the biggest questions being asked right now. Even we, Dispatch, were not clear on those facts, either. Some things were and still are too iffy to just not doubt. With that said, we attempted to interview a line up of those who might have further information regarding this controversy, such as:
– Person A, who was also involved in the investigation at the time
– Person B, an acquaintance of Park Bom
– Person C, an affiliate of the National Tax Service
– Person D, a drug enforcement agency team member
As a result of these interviews, we found factors that Park Bom was both innocent and guilty during the whole ordeal. We unraveled the story to a representative of the crime investigation organization by creating a ‘Q&D’ (Question & Dispatch) article. The article focuses mainly on the process of why and how Park Bom purchased these drugs at the time and what matters prosecutors dealt with during the short investigation a few years back.
D: During Park Bom’s high school days, she underwent a traumatic experience—she witnessed the death a very close friend right in front of her own eyes. Accordingly, Park Bom fell into a deep psychological pain and slump. She was then diagnosed with an emotional incontinence disorder where she couldn’t not control her emotions. She received psychological therapy while carrying on with medication use.
▶ Q2. Then does that mean she took the amphetamine pills as a medication for her psychological therapy? ◀
D: After the traumatic incident, Park Bom consistently and steadily received psychological therapy non-stop—it was at this time that she began being prescribed amphetamine pills and started using them. In America, this substance is a drug that is legally used for medications. Park Bom took these prescribed pills without having to worry about anything.
▶ Q3. The year 2010 is after 2NE1 debuted and was promoting in South Korea. Didn’t she receive treatment in our own country? ◀
D: Park Bom continuously and consistently received psychological treatment and therapy even in Korea. She even took medication that was prescribed to her by the Korean hospital, of course. However, the effectiveness of drugs varies for every person, and every person has their ‘own medicine’ that works better for them than others. Just like how some people react better to ‘Tylenol’ than they do to ‘Penzal’, vice versa.
▶Q4. So that’s your excuse for why she ordered amphetamines? ◀
D: Park Bom’s mother was the first to contact the hospital Bom frequented back in the States a few years back. It seems that she shared information about her daughter’s situation and that is when both the mother and the hospital came to the conclusion that Bom’s condition was getting worse. She then requested for Bom’s attending doctor to send substitute prescriptions of the medication.
▶ Q5. So are you guys saying that what CEO Yang Hyunsuk said is true, about “why would a mother knowingly offer her own child drugs?” ◀
D: Yes. Like we have already stated, Park Bom’s mother contacted the hospital in America first. This is one fact or portion that both Yang Hyunsuk’s statement and our answer have a thread of common connection. If Park’s mother had really been aware that the medication was in fact an illegal drug substance, how would she ever have the nerve to request for a prescription of it for her own daughter? But Park’s mother is not the only one who called the American hospital—Park Bom herself has in fact contacted the hospital as well. Because this was a hospital she frequented and relied on a numerous basis, she called and described her situation, requesting for substitute prescriptions.
▶ Q6. But isn’t it still undeniably illegal to ask for substitute prescriptions of this drug?◀
D: According to the rules, it’s definitely restricted and forbidden, especially if it happens during the first medical examination. However, if you carry a chronic illness, you may be prescribed the said drug separately. On top of that, Park Bom’s attending doctor was aware of Park Bom’s busy schedule and must have taken into consideration that she would not have the time to come to America to get the medication herself. In the end, she was able to receive the prescribed drugs. The medications were purchased by Park’s maternal side of the family for her.
▶ Q7. But was Park Bom really unaware of the fact that importing Amphetamines were restricted/illegal? ◀
D: She was only aware of the fact that the drug was not in the markets for sale in Korea, nor did she know the reason why they were not being sold. She simply thought it had something to do with complications with the government customs. Because you cannot easily get your hands on the medication in Korea, she purely thought you could just import them from America then.
▶ Q8. What if she was aware that the drug was in fact illegal and that is why she had it shipped to her grandmother’s address? To hide herself from the illegal act? ◀
D: The reason why she had the package addressed for her grandmother’s home was because she was taking into consideration of the automatic postal receiving process. Park Bom’s busy daily schedules made it almost impossible for her to be home most of the time and her mother is usually almost never home as well, so knowing that, she had the packages sent to her grandmother’s home address instead. Park thought that there wouldn’t be any issues of not being able to receive the package or having it “returned” if she sent it to her grandmother’s home because her grandmother never leaves the house.
D: On October 12, 2010, the Incheon International Airport Customs uncovered an airmail package in the airport’s postal facility that carried 82 counts of Amphetamines. The Customs office reported this news to the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office. The package was found to be addressed to a certain Incheon residential area. The consignee was Park Bom’s maternal grandmother.
▶ Q10. At the time, the prosecutors thought this illegal substance was smuggled in and knew exactly who did it, so why didn’t they summon the suspect directly involved any sooner? ◀
D: Usually, in the case of a drug investigation, the period or term in which the process may be followed through is on a tight watch. It is namely because they need to first make sure whether or not this substance is being spread throughout the country, whether there are accomplices that are helping to distribute the drug or sellers who are buying them.
▶ Q11. How did prosecutors go about the investigation after the said process above? ◀
D: In Park Bom’s case, they went through the same process explained in the previous answer. Prosecutors made their next moves a week after the incident broke out—first, they went to the resident filed under the address on the package. That was where they found Park Bom’s grandmothers living there. The grandmother explained that her daughter, Park Bom’s mother to be precise, took the medications.
▶ Q12. So then did they go back to Park Bom’s home in Seoul to find her? ◀
D: Yes, they headed straight for Seoul. Prosecutors searched the apartment home Park Bom and her mother live in together, located in Apgujeong district, and found the items of evidence. This is where the prosecutors fell into a ‘dilemma’.
※ Park Bom still, in fact, had all of her weeks’ worth of pills (about 3 to 4 pills a week) stored safely without any of them missing. All accusations about Park sharing, distributing, and selling the substance to others were all confirmed to be false. All allegations that Park may have altered the drug in any form confirmed to be false. ※
D: First off, they examined and counted the number of pills. The amount that was left over that they found was approximately 78 pills. That means Park only took about 3-4 pills within the week it had been shipped. Usually, in order for a drug case to expand or grow further into investigation, a large quantity of the pills/substance need to be missing. But for this case, only 3-4 pills were missing, and that could only mean one thing: it was really taken for medicinal use only.
▶ Q14. Hold on, let me just stop you here for a second. I feel that now is a good time to be researching on South Korean drug enforcement laws. ◀
D: According to South Korean drug enforcement laws, there are a total of 3 instances where additional penalties/consequences apply.
① When an illegal substance is being manufactured, sold, or exported with the intentional purpose of making business out of it; when a substance is in possession by a person or people with the intention to manufacture, sell, or export. (Per Article 60)
② When the raw/base material of an illegal substance is being traded, or when the raw/base material is being demanded; when a person or people possess the raw/base material of an illegal substance with the intention to trade or deal. (Per Article 61)
③ When a drug is used, or when a person or people provide(s) a place, venue, equipment, funds, and means of transportation to use or access the drugs/illegal substance. (Per Article 62)
▶ Q15. So are you saying that Park Bom’s actions or charges did not apply to any of the three laws stated above? ◀
D: “Amphetamines” are a treatment used for depression and other psychological disorders. Now, if a certain special change or chemical modification was made to this drug, it could easily transform into a new substance called “methamphetamine”, or commonly known as Philopon. However, Park Bom only took 3-4 pills within a week’s time. The small amount of 3-4 pills is not enough to alter it into methamphetamine, nor is it a reasonable amount to supply to another person.
▶ Q16. Despite everything, wasn’t it still an illegal action to import a drug to a country that considers the substance to be restricted/illegal? ◀
D: That charge remains to be valid and is still considered a misdemeanor/crime, which is why Park Bom received investigation. In fact, Park’s mother was also investigated as a testifier. Nonetheless, the Korean justice system only applies and enforces harsh laws to those who manufacture, (re)distribute, and provided access and usage of the drug to others. Park Bom, on the other hand, did not fall under any of these circumstances. The other 78 counts of pills that were found to be stored to the side were only found to be used for medicinal purposes. There were no signs for purification, alteration, or transformation of the pills.
※ Park Bom’s proceedings with drug smuggle accusations:
– Retrieved and submitted medical records of psychological therapy
– Retrieved and submitted prescription history (from America)
– Validated all records relating to hospital visits and pharmaceutical records from the past several years
※Drug Enforcement Agency Representative:
“(Park Bom) Has an obvious career with a stable path and there were no signs of attempted fleeing; if it’s a first-time offense, there are considerations to be more lenient, however, Park has received prescriptions(to rule the offense out), so with medical records indicating her treatment/therapy, it is very possible to be released/have the case shut down.”
D: Park submitted a medical diagnosis and records from both America and within the county (South Korea). It was a diagnosis for a psychological illness. She also submitted a list of records kept that indicated all the medications she had been prescribed for back in the United States. Park summoned her intentions of explanation through pharmaceutical records as well.
▶ Q18. Is is safe to look at the prosecutors’ “closing/release” of the case as a “special favor” or a bribe? ◀
D: The following quote provided are the exact words spoken by a Drug Enforcement Agency representative:
“Even if it was an actual abuse of illegal substance, Park Bom has an obvious career with a stable path and no signs of deliberate or attempted fleeing; if it is a first-time offense, there are considerations of leniency. However, prescriptions were lawfully received from an overseas hospital and there are records stating that the drugs were being used for medical purposes, it is very possible to have the case dropped/released. This is not a matter that was looked on favorably or bribed to be shut down.”
▶ Q19. But how come a Samsung Group representative got arrested for an extremely similar case to Park Bom’s(but Park did not get taken into custody)? ◀
D: In the case of that incident, an explanation as to why the person purchased the drug was not released. According to the prosecutors, the suspect obtained the amphetamine from an acquaintance. Of course, if there had been an official statement regarding or explaining that the said suspect received a prescription or why they had purchased or used the substance, there may have been a grace period or consideration of leeway. Unfortunately, no statement, explanation, or excuse was made.
▶ Q20. Are there any other instances like Park Bom where someone was acquitted from the same charges? ◀
D: Last June, a National Intelligence Service agent, Person C, received a charge for carrying a case of powder made from a plant that contains a drug substance. At the time, Person C, imported a package of a powder made from the roots of a Brazilian ornamental flower called Mimosa Plant, which contains strong components of DMT, or Dimethyltryptamine.
n spite of everything, prosecutors learned that Person C intentionally ordered the powder directly off the internet after discovering that the powder from the plant’s roots would help treat the illness of his son, who is suffering from a severe case of ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). So after finding zero traces of drug use (the powder) in Person C’s system/bloodstream, he was acquitted of his charges—Person C was considered to have purchased the substance in order to use it for medicinal purposes only and prosecutors found no signs of substance abuse.
▶ Q21. Some sources say that the only reason for this case to have been dropped was because of the power YGE holds and/or they came up with a way to block things from getting bigger. ◀
D: Perhaps it’s because the authority of Korea’s prosecutors and justice system have fallen so low. But according to District Prosecutors, drug enforcement and drug-related cases are still considered to be a great deal. If a prosecutor ends up catching someone affiliated with drug-use, especially if the suspect is a famous celebrity, it would guarantee you a promotion and raise. No prosecutor in their right mind would let go of such a grand case or opportunity so easily. YG Entertainment may seem like a powerful company with incredible “back up” to fans and the media, but to prosecutors, they are considered mere “bait”. No matter how strong YGE is, there is no way YG’s “powers” could have brigaded a case like this from the prosecutors.
Translated by: big_seunghyun
Translator Note: Before you begin, I must warn you that it’s a pretty long read (took me so long to translate T_T) with some repetitive information (also some info from YG’s official statement), but there are a LOT of new information that hasn’t been disclosed before, so please read if you are interested in what Dispatch had to say regarding Park Bom.
This article was created by Dispatch in order to get people (more targeted towards doubtful K-netizens) to clearly understand every bit of what happened in regards to Park Bom’s case, including exclusive information about the investigation process back in 2010.