As I'm sure you've noticed in the last 72 hours, Big Bang's Choi Seunghyun, aka T.O.P, is not only being investigated for smoking marijuana back in October 2016, but he has also been expelled from the military (and forced to restart his two year service), and the latest news is that he was found unconscious after a supposed drug overdose. No, not on marijuana, but on benzodiazepines - his nerve stabilizer medication meant for his anxiety and depression.
Let me backtrack, in case you don't know what I'm talking about.
Trainee Han Seo Hee
On June 1st, a case was opened against T.O.P for smoking marijuana after a female trainee (who was found out to be Han Seo Hee) revealed she was smoking with him at his home. There were two sides of the collective outrage: one side mad at him for doing marijuana, and the other side mad at her for being a snake and dropping his name. Days later, he was removed from the police division of the military. After being dismissed, T.O.P issued a handwritten letter, expressing how remorseful, embarrassed, and ashamed he was for having done so. Following that, just one day after being kicked out of the military, he was found unconscious from an "accidental drug overdose" and rushed to ICU.
The media has gone back and forth between whether or not he's woken up, and several sites have stated that the police officially announced that he is not in critical condition, and has either woken up or was never unconscious. Mind you, he's been in ICU for over twenty four hours now.
His mother made a statement, stating the following:
“My son is still unconscious and to read articles that say he’s “deep in sleep” is hurtful. Please edit and refrain from saying such things. We don’t know how things will turn out. My son is in critical condition.”
The Big Bang member's handwritten letter to fans
This brings a question to my mind: why was the media saying that he is merely sleeping? Why were they downplaying it? If you find someone unconscious from a supposed drug overdose, why would you bring insult to injury by saying that they are sleeping? Even the man's mother has said that he's near dying, and some supposed police informant is stating that "he'll wake up in 2 days." (It's also been confirmed by the doctors that police's reports are false, and they are unaware of who could have spoken to them to provide this false information.)
It's nothing new that T.O.P has been battling with his anxiety and depression for years, having initially revealed his mental illnesses in 2008.
There are many questions revolving around this "scandal," and I'm cautious to call it as such. These questions (not just from me, but others as well) range from questioning a country's reasoning for such a harsh punishment involvement with marijuana (five years jail time?!), to questioning how said country deals with mental illness in general.
Mental illness already has a largely negative stigma about it on it's own, but with the way the police are simply sweeping this issue under the rug, saying that he is merely sleeping and neglecting to accurately represent how T.O.P is doing in ICU, brings a major side eye to the entire situation. There will always be differences in what a country does in regards to its laws, however, South Korea has seemingly always swept problems with mental illnesses aside. In my opinion, for a country that has as high of a suicide rate as it does, it only seems rational that they should have better things in place rather than simply giving muscle relaxers.
This isn't the only case of idol mental illness being downplayed and improperly treated, either, as can be seen with Gain's case (morphine for panic and anxiety?), Bang Yongguk's hiatus, Nam Taehyun's departure from WINNER, and even Park Bom's prescription drug "scandal" to name a few, but this is without a doubt a more severe situation. Not to say that non-idols cannot be struggling through these types of scenarios, as I'm sure many unfortunately are, but we can only see what's in the news.
Photos from the hospital indicating T.O.P's name on the ICU patients list. Credits to mydaily
With that in mind, I wish T.O.P a speedy recovery and hope that he can pull through this adversary relatively unscathed, and we can only hope the country steps up their game regarding mental health treatments.
What are your thoughts on the situation with T.O.P? With mental health awareness and treatment in South Korea as a whole?
*C.H.D Entertainment is in no way affiliated with any of the above mentioned artists, their companies, or their partners. This article does not reflect the thoughts and opinions of C.H.D Entertainment as a whole.