The popularity of K-Pop is taking a dive - at least in the stock market - after South Korean police confirmed a member of the Big Bang boy band is being investigated as part of a probe into prostitution at Seoul nightclubs. In the messages, it was implied that Club Arena were hiring prostitutes in a bid to lobby investors.
Local media reported that Seungri, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, was a suspect in an investigation involving prostitutes in the Gangnam area in Seoul.
Seungri has been linked at the management level to the Burning Sun nightclub, which was the site of alleged sex abuse.
BIGBANG is one of Korea's most popular boy bands, having sold more than 140 million records worldwide since their debut in 2006. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for three years.
Seungri's agency, YG Entertainment, has yet to release a statement about the issue.
How has South Korea reacted? As for the ongoing investigation, I will take it seriously to clear myself of all the allegations.
Many fans have already turned their backs on him and signed a petition last week urging Seungri's expulsion from BIGBANG, saying he had caused "unrecoverable damage to the group's reputation".More news: Microsoft's phone-screen mirroring beta hits Windows 10 this week
More news: German intel sharing at risk over Huawei spat
More news: 'Worst owner in sport' has stunning response to fan heckle
"As I've been branded as a "national traitor", I can not stand the fact that I'm harming others for my own sake", he added.
Big Bang's Seungri announces he's leaving the Kpop industry after 10 years.
Another member, rapper T.O.P, was handed a 10-month suspended prison sentence for marijuana use in 2017.
In South Korea they are showbiz royalty - but their popularity has spread across Asia and the rest of the world.
In the meantime, the military has said that Seungri's enlistment will not be postponed and he can continue to cooperate with the investigation during his service.
Media captionWhat do non-Koreans love about K-pop?