Big Bang’s TOP in critical condition, doctor says

Rapper TOP of South Korean group BigBang  is receiving treatment in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Seoul. — Picture via Instagram/choi_seung_hyun_tttop
Rapper TOP of South Korean group BigBang is receiving treatment in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Seoul. — Picture via Instagram/choi_seung_hyun_tttop

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SEOUL, June 7 ― South Korean pop star TOP is in critical condition, his doctor said today, a day after the singer was hospitalised following an apparent drug overdose.

The 29-year-old rapper of K-pop boy band Big Bang was found unconscious at a police station where he was undertaking mandatory military service, and rushed to intensive care at a Seoul medical centre yesterday.

“Choi’s condition is very bad,” said one of TOP’s doctors at the Ewha Womans University Medical Centre, referring to the singer by his real name, Choi Seung-Hyun.

TOP is “suspected to have overdosed on benzodiazepine” ― a class of tranquilizers which includes well-known brand name drugs such as Valium ― the doctor added, without specifying whether Choi had a prescription for the drugs.

“He has not fully recovered from lethargy and is unable to make normal eye contact,” another doctor on TOP’s medical team told reporters, adding that it could take up to a week for the rapper to recover.

TOP’s hospitalisation came a day after he was indicted on charges of smoking marijuana and transferred out of Gangnam Police Station, where he had been been a conscripted policeman since February.

He was working at another police station at the time of his collapse.

Both recreational and medical use of marijuana is illegal in South Korea, and smoking the banned substance is a crime punishable for up to five years in prison or a 50 million won (RM190,079) fine.

TOP was accused of smoking marijuana on four occasions in his home in Seoul last October and has partially admitted to the charges, issuing a handwritten apology letter.

“I deserve punishment for hurting the (BIGBANG) members, agency, public, fans and family,” he said in the letter apparently written on Sunday.

“I’ll regret this for tens of thousands of years.”

More than 60 years after the end of the Korean War, every South Korean man between the age of 18 and 35 is required to perform two years of military service.

The main rationale is the continued threat from nuclear-armed North Korea, given that the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war. ― AFP

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