In this time of uncertainty and turmoil around the world comes a glimmer of good news for fans of beloved Korean group Monsta X. According to a press release from the band’s management company, Starship Entertainment, Wonho (Lee Hoseok), who left the group last October due to allegations of financial mismanagement and drug use before his 2015 debut with the group, was cleared of all drug charges against him by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
As of March 10, Seoul authorities have concluded their investigation of the allegations of marijuana use against the 27-year-old singer. Smoking weed is very illegal in South Korea — so much so that even Korean citizens who consume it abroad in countries in which it is legal are subject to punishment at home. But according to the police, "Wonho actively cooperated with the police and all investigation procedures, including scientific examinations by the investigative agencies," and after five months have dismissed the claims.
The other accusations against the singer were made by former YG Entertainment trainee Han Seohee, who alleged that Wonho owed a significant debt to his former co-star on the South Korean variety show Ulzzang Shidae. This, however, was denied by Starship even after Wonho's departure, who maintained that they would “continue to hold legal liability for malicious claims related to this matter."
In the same October 31 statement, Starship explained that the company had discussed the situation at hand with Wonho, and that his exit was “amicable.” “I carefully ask that you at least give support and encouragement to the members [of Monsta X]. They are people who are too good to stop and get hurt like this because of someone like me,” Wonho wrote in a letter translated by Soompi.
Since then, Monsta X has continued releasing music as a six-member group — most notably releasing the first all-English album from a K-pop group, All About Luv (on which Wonho is still featured a a vocalist), which climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard 200. Despite Monsta X's fans' (called Monbebe) unwavering support of the sextet during their various promotional activities and gearing up for their upcoming world tour, Monbebe have been relentless in the past five months in their calls for Wonho's reinstatement in the group. Fans have continued to advocate for Wonho on social media, using hashtags such #FightForWonho, and made an online petition with nearly half a million signatures. Fans even took to the streets of Seoul, writing supportive notes on Post-Its and sticking them on the outside of Starship Entertainment's building. Some fans even crowd-funded more than $25,000 to commission a billboard for the singer in New York City's Times Square.
In Starship's most recent statement, the company recognized the passion and efforts of Monbebe during this difficult period. "Regardless of any above, we would like to apologize once again for the fact that Starship Entertainment and Wonho have caused great concern to our fans. We also thank all our fans for their unwavering support while the investigation was conducted." They also added that the reason they have been so tight-lipped about the singer's situation was because they felt it was "best to minimize media exposure to Wonho" during the ongoing investigation.
Of course, the first thing Monbebe will likely want to know is if this means that Wonho will rejoin the group. However, on this matter, Starship remains relatively vague. They have only stated that they "will continue to fully support Wonho for developing his own career in the future.”
Read the statement in full:
"The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's drug investigation team cleared Wonho, a former member of the idol group Monsta X, of all charges against him on March 10th after closing an investigation into the drug, including marijuana.
In late October last year, allegations of marijuana smoking were raised against Wonho which consequently led the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's drug investigation team to investigate all drug charges on him. During the investigation, Wonho actively cooperated with the police and all investigation procedures, including scientific examinations by the investigative agencies. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's drug investigation unit conducted extensive investigations for the past five months but was unable to find any charges. Finally, on March 10th, Wonho's internal investigation was concluded.
Regardless of any above, we would like to apologize once again for the fact that Starship Entertainment and Wonho have caused great concern to our fans. We also thank all our fans for their unwavering support while the investigation was conducted.
During the long investigation, we tried our best to minimize media exposure to Wonho and to appoint an attorney to ensure that there are no charges against him. We will continue to fully support Wonho for developing his own career in the future.
This is a developing story.