Seungri in 2018
December 12, 1990
Gwangju, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||I Seung-hyeon|
Lee Seung-hyun (Korean: 이승현; born December 12, 1990), better known by his stage names Seungri (Hangul: 승리, Victory) and V.I (when performing in Japan), is a former South Korean singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, businessman, investor, DJ and creative director. In the mid-2000s, Seungri rose to prominence as one of three vocalists and youngest member of the South Korean boy band Big Bang under YG Entertainment, which eventually became one of the best-selling digital groups of all-time in Asia and one of the best-selling boy bands in the world. With the release of the group's second studio album Remember (2008), in which the second single released, "Strong Baby", was performed solely by Seungri, he began to adopt a more mature image as an artist.
Seungri furthered this image with the release of his first extended play, V.V.I.P in 2011. The EP debuted at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and yielded two singles: "VVIP" and "What Can I Do" (Korean: 어쩌라고, Revised Romanization: Eojjeolago). The latter peaked at number seven on the Gaon Digital Chart and the album sold over 50,000 copies. His second Korean EP Let's Talk About Love (2013) fared better, becoming his second number one album and selling over 80,000 copies. Let's Talk About Love was supported by "Gotta Talk to You" (Korean: 할말 있어요, Revised Romanization: Halmal Isseoyo), which charted at number three on the Gaon Chart and was later re-released in Japan as his first full Japanese studio album, containing previous materials from the two EPs recorded in the country's native language. In 2018, he released his first Korean studio album, the chart-topper The Great Seungri and embarked on his first world tour as a solo artist.
Making his theatrical debut with the musical Sonagi in 2008, Seungri went on to star in films such as Nineteen and Why Did You Come to My House?, both released in 2009. He branched into television with the Japanese drama Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo (2013) and the South Korean television series Angel Eyes (2014). In recent years, he's explored other ventures, including opening a dance academy, owning a nightclub and restaurant franchise, founding a record label and investing in other businesses.
On March 11, 2019, Seungri departed from Big Bang and retired from the entertainment industry after allegations surfaced of him supplying prostitutes in 2015. He was indicted in 2020 after the police investigation of the Burning Sun scandal.
Early beginnings and debut with Big Bang
Born and raised in Gwangju, South Korea, Seungri was noted for his dancing skills growing up, with the singer participating in the dance group II Hwa. Hoping to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, Seungri appeared in survival program Let's Coke Play! Battle Shinhwa, a reality television series to find the next Shinhwa. He was eventually eliminated in the ninth episode. Following his appearance on the show, Seungri was scouted by YG Entertainment to audition for the new boy band, Big Bang, alongside five other members: T.O.P, Taeyang, G-Dragon, Daesung, and Hyun-seung. The formation of the group was documented on television. Despite the initial plan of debuting six members, Seungri and Hyun-seung risked elimination due to their lack of stage presence and were given one final opportunity to impress Yang Hyun-suk, founder of YG Entertainment. While Seungri was picked to stay, Hyung-seung (who went on to debut with the boy band Beast) was dropped before the official debut.
Following the release of several single albums, Big Bang's first album Big Bang Vol.1 - Since 2007 was a moderate success. Seungri also recorded his first solo song "The Next Day" (Korean: 다음날; Revised Romanization: Daeumnal) for the album. The group's breakthrough came with the release of their first extended play, Always (2007), which included the number one song "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal). The song went on to top major Korean music charts for a record-breaking seven consecutive weeks, and won the group the Song of the Year award at the 9th Mnet Korean Music Festival. Their following EPs followed its predecessor's footsteps: Hot Issue yielded "Last Farewell" (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) while Stand Up spawned "Day by Day" (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru); both singles were chart-toppers. Seungri continued to hone his dancing skills by competing against bandmate Taeyang in several dance competitions, as well as against Super Junior's Eunhyuk, TVXQ's Yunho and Shinee's Taemin. He also choreographs a large portion of Big Bang's dances.
2008–2011: Solo career development, acting, and VVIP
In 2008, members of Big Bang began branching out to develop their solo careers. Seungri became the first member of Big Bang to act in a musical with Sonagi in 2008. He also ventured into hosting, becoming a host for MBC's music program Show! Music Core alongside Daesung. After filming wrapped up, Seungri went back into the studio with Big Bang to record for their second Korean studio album, Remember (2008). The album was promoted with two singles: "Sunset Glow" (Korean: 붉은노을; Revised Romanization: Byulkeun Noeul) and "Strong Baby," a solo release by Seungri. In order to shed the "youngest member" image from Big Bang, he promoted the single with a more mature look complete with a stylized dance. He won his first triple crown for "Strong Baby" on SBS's live music show Inkigayo.
When promotional activities for Remember ended, Seungri returned to acting and starred in his first film Why Did You Come to My House?, playing the love interest of Kang Hye-jung. He then starred in his second musical Shouting, alongside bandmate Daesung, who was unable to perform at the last minute due to a car accident. The same year, he also starred in the film 19-Nineteen alongside fellow member T.O.P.
Seungri's first extended play, V.V.I.P, was released on January 20, 2011, with two singles: "VVIP" and "What Can I Do". To establish an identity away from Big Bang through his music, Seungri involved himself in the production of the album, composing and writing six out of the seven songs. "VVIP" and "What Can I Do" won a triple crown on Mnet's M! Countdown. Seungri also won the SBS Inkigayo Mutizen Award. Promotional activities were cut short in order for Seungri to focus on Big Bang's comeback. The same year, he was cast in the MBC drama Lights and Shadows, playing an aspiring singer from the country.
2012–2014: Japanese promotions, scandal controversy, and Let's Talk About Love
In 2012, Seungri started his first Japanese promotions by appearing on variety shows, such as hosting a Japanese radio program entitled Big Bang's All Night Nippon. He was also chosen as the special MC on Fuji TV's Sakigake! Ongaku Banzuke Eight, where he interviewed celebrities. He had his first Japanese show Seungchan's Complete Victory Declaration on Space Shower TV. Seungri later appeared in the Nihon TV special drama Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Japanese broadcasting company, NTV. The drama was based on the manga Kindaichi Case Files Neo SP 1: Hong Kong Kowloon Treasure Murder Case, and premiered in January 2013. It later won the Best Drama SP (Excellence Awards) at the Tokyo Drama Awards. He also became a regular cast of Music On! TV's program Count Down E.T, hosting the Men's Bar Food section.
Seungri's career took a setback when he became embroiled in a sex scandal with a Japanese woman. As a result, he stepped out of Big Bang's promotional activities for self-reflection. He would revisit the scandal one year later on SBS talk show Incarnation, discussing how it helped him grow up and how fans began to view him more as an adult.
Recording for Seungri's second Korean EP Let's Talk About Love took over two years, and the artist also involved himself with the production of the album. The EP was released on August 19, 2013, debuting at number one on the Gaon Chart and went on to sell over 70,000 copies. He promoted the singles "Gotta Talk to You" and the eponymous title track. In October of the same year, he released his first Japanese album, selling over 14,000 copies in its first day and topping the Oricon Charts. The album contained songs from his previous albums, as well as the new song "The Feelings Painted in the Sky" (Japanese: 空に描く思い), which was later used as the theme song for Seungri's first Japanese television drama Yubikoi ～Kimini Okuru Message～.
In September, Seungri joined Popular Women 100 as a co-host alongside comedian Hiroshi Yamazaki, becoming the first international celebrity to clinch a hosting spot on a regular cable show in Japan.
From 2013 to 2014, Seungri starred in the Japanese drama Yubikoi ~Kimini Okuru Message~ - A Message Send To You. He then took a supporting role in the Korean medical drama Angel Eyes alongside labelmate Ku Hye-sun, playing the role of a Korean-American teen with the dream of becoming an emergency rescue worker.
2015–2019: Focus on acting, The Great Seungri, tour and other activities
Though he toured extensively from 2015 to 2016 with his band to promote their third Korean album Made (2016),  Seungri also appeared as a professional judge on the Chinese TV program Girls Fighting in 2016, where he mentored trainees. He also produced the song "36 Tricks of Love" for the show, a remake of the Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai's song under the same title. The song took the number one spot on the QQ Music and Weibo charts in China. He later starred in the Japanese movie, High & Low: The Movie (2016), playing the son of a Korean mob boss. The film was commercially successful, and placed second at the Japanese box office on its opening, grossing ¥668.3 million. He also recorded the song "We Run Dis" with PKCZ for the soundtrack. In August 2016, he started filming for his first Chinese film Bonjour L'amour (also titled Love Only). The movie was released on March 2, 2018.
In May 2018, Seungri announced his first solo tour The Great Seungri, twelve years after his debut, with shows announced in South Korea and Japan, the tour is to support his first studio album. Seungri was featured on the single "Combo" by TPA, with Al Rocco and Ivy. He released a second collaboration single "Ignite", with K-391, Alan Walker and Julie Bergan. The song topped the Norwegian chart for two weeks. On July 20, 2018, Seungri released his first Korean studio album The Great Seungri, with "1, 2, 3!" as its title track. Seungri was highly involved in the production of the album, co-composing and writing for all tracks. The album debuted at number one on South Korea's Gaon Chart.
Seungri also starred in YG and Netflix's sitcom-variety show, YG Future Strategy Office, playing a fictionalised version of himself appointed as senior adviser to the fictional division of YG Entertainment. The show debuted in October 2018. In November of that same year, he joined the variety show We Will Channel You as a regular cast member.
Allegations and departure from YG
In 2019, a number of allegations related to club Burning Sun, a nightclub founded in 2018 and managed by two CEOs; Lee Moon-ho and Lee Seong-hyun. surrounded the singer Seungri due to his affiliation with the business as a creative director/shareholder and occasional DJ. The allegations included drug use and arranging sexual favors for investors, among others. KakaoTalk conversations of the singer with a Burning Sun co-founder and another of its employees about such arrangements were revealed by media in relation to the prostitution allegation, but the original, unedited KakaoTalk messages were not submitted according to the police during a press conference on March 4. Seungri also denied the allegations. On March 10, Seungri underwent a second round of drug analysis; hair and urine samples were tested, and the results were negative. On March 11, Seungri announced on his Instagram account of his retirement from the entertainment industry, stating that he would fully cooperate with the investigation. This led to the consensual termination of his contract with his agency YG Entertainment on March 13. On April 1, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency reported that Seungri and his business partner Yoo In-seok (co-CEO of Yuri Holdings) embezzled funds from Yuri Holdings for business purposes. The amount was reported to be about tens of millions of won (10M KRW ≈ US$8400). On April 25, Seungri denied the prostitution charges related to a 2015 Christmas party, however Yoo In-seok admitted that he called and paid for entertainers for Japanese investors. The hotel bill was reportedly paid using a YG Entertainment corporate card, however Seungri denied knowing about the occurrence of prostitution. On May 8, after a total of 17 closed-door police interrogations, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency requested an arrest warrant for Seungri over the following charges: Prostitution Mediation, Embezzlement of Burning Sun funds (according to the police, Seungri directly intervened in the misappropriation of about 200M Won from Burning Sun as brand fee for Monkey Museum), and Monkey Museum's violation of the Food Sanitation Act (For inappropriately declaring Monkey Museum as a restaurant instead of an entertainment establishment). On May 14, Seoul District Court rejected the arrest warrant saying that embezzlement, a major charge, is open to dispute. And it is difficult to acknowledge the reasons for detention, such as the destruction of evidence, for the remaining suspicions which include prostitution mediation. On May 15, Police stated that it would be difficult to reapply for arrest warrant, and they would finalize the investigation prior to Seungri's military enlistment date. However, on June 25, the police stated that his case has been forwarded to prosecution with seven charges: procuring sex service, prostitution mediation, embezzlement of business funds for hiring a legal representative, embezzlement of club Burning Sun revenues, attempt at destruction of evidence, distribution of illegally-filmed content via social platforms, and violation of the Food Sanitation Act.
On August 28, 2019, Seungri was questioned in connection with illegal gambling. On January 10, 2020, the prosecution announced they had requested a second arrest warrant for Seungri on seven charges.
Seungri has helped establish two branches of a music and dance academy called "Plug In Music Academy," also known as "Seungri Academy". The dance academy is located in Gwangju, Daejeon, Mokpo, and Seoul. Students of the academy learn how to sing, dance, and act. Some of the past students of the academy include high-profile K-pop celebrities such as 2NE1's Minzy, BTS' Jung Hoseok, Kara's Goo Hara, TVXQ's Yunho and B.A.P.'s Zelo.
In 2014, Seungri started a café business. Purchasing a license for traditional Belgian waffles, he opened a waffle café And Here at Daehangno which he left to his mother to run. Seungri opened his private bar called Monkey Museum night club in Changsha, Hunan, China in partnership with Luk Hing Entertainment. He also founded a record label Natural High Record alongside other DJs. In December 2016, he launched a Japanese ramen restaurant franchise called Aori Ramen in Seoul. During 2017, the franchise expanded through Asia, and in November, he announced that he would open the 15th branch in Kuala Lumpur. In early 2017, he invested in the medical cosmetic brand Dr. Gloderm, acquiring 10% of the cosmetic company's shares. Seungri now has a company name for all his investments under YURI HOLDINGS.
In 2018, Seungri was revealed to be collaborating with Liquid State, an electronic dance music label newly launched by Sony Music Entertainment and Tencent Music Entertainment. He would serve as the label's ambassador and be involved in music collaborations. In June, Seungri become the CEO of YGX, a label under YG Entertainment, Seungri will work on recruiting talented hip-hop rookies and running entertainment businesses. The label company was merged with Seungri's DJ label Natural High Record, it will also be in charge of HIGHGRND and a dance academy called YGX Academy. In 2019, he resigned from all management positions before his military enlistment, as required by Korean law.
Seungri, under the name Richard Lee, participated in his first jiu-jitsu match under the Japan Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation in 2017. He won two medals, silver medal in adult white open-weight class and bronze medal for adult white featherweight class. He also earned a black belt in taekwondo.
In 2015, Seungri joined label-mate Sean for a briquette charity. He had previously promised fans to deliver and donate 30,000 briquettes but donated a total of 130,000. He brought along notable celebrities to the charity, including F.T. Island's Choi Jong-hoon and Jung Joon-young of Drug Restaurant (formerly JJY).
In December 2017, Seungri, along with 30 Aori Ramen employees and his father, delivered coal briquettes to low-income families for cooking and heating their homes. He also donated 100 million won to global children welfare agency ChildFund Korea.
After passing his college entrance exams, Seungri was accepted by Chung-Ang University and began his college education in the spring of 2010, along with Yuri and Sooyoung of Girls' Generation. He dropped out of Chung-Ang University in 2012 after being placed on academic probation several times due to his demanding schedule with Big Bang, opting instead to enroll at Gukje Digital University so he could take online classes and attend his schedules at the same time.
Mandatory military service
Seungri was set to enlist in Nonsan Army Training Center on March 25, 2019, despite ongoing controversies regarding the Burning Sun scandal. Following the investigation, Seungri put in a request for the conscription delay, and the Military Manpower Administration granted a three-month postponement.
On March 9, 2020, Seungri enlisted in the military at the 6th Infantry Recruit Training Center in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province. He did not answer any of the press' questions on his way to the training center.
- The Great Seungri (2018)
|2009||Why Did You Come to My House?||Park Ji-min|
|2016||Big Bang Made||Himself|
|2016||High & Low: The Movie||Lee|
|2018||Love Only||Winson / Yun Sheng|
|2011||Lights and Shadows||Ahn Jae-su (cameo, ep 9-10)||MBC|
|2013||Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo (The Files of Young Kindaichi - Lost in Kowloon)||Kim Yong-dong||NTV|
|2013-2014||Yubikoi ~Kimini Okuru Message~ - A Message Send To You||Han Seung-ho|
|2014||Angel Eyes||Teddy Seo||SBS|
|2008-2009||MBC||Show! Music Core||Co-host||with Daesung|
|2012||Space Shower TV||Seung-chan's Complete Victory Declaration||Cast member||Reality show|
|2013||Music On! TV||Count Down E.T - Men's Bar Food||Regular cast|
|Fuji TV||Popular Women 100||Co-host||with Hiroshi Yamazaki|
|2016||Dragon TV||Girls Fighting||Instructor|
|2017||YouTube Red||Run, BIGBANG Scout!||Cast Member|
|2018||Netflix||YG Future Strategy Office||Main cast|
|SBS||We Will Channel You||Cast Member|
Awards and nominations
|2009||3rd The Musical Awards||Popularity Award||Himself||Won|||
|2013||15th Mnet Asian Music Awards||Best Dance Performance - Male Solo||"Gotta Talk To U"||Nominated|||
|2018||1st MBC Plus X Genie Music Awards||Artist of the Year||Himself||Nominated|||
|Male Artist Award||Nominated|
|Genie Music Popularity Award||Nominated|
|20th Mnet Asian Music Awards||Song of the Year||"1, 2, 3!"||Nominated|||
|Best Dance Performance||Nominated|
|2nd Korea China International Film Festival||Hallyu Star Award||Himself||Won|||
|10th MelOn Music Awards||Best Dance Track - Male||"1, 2, 3!"||Nominated|||
|12th SBS Entertainment Awards||Scene Stealer Award||Himself||Won|||
|2019||28th Seoul Music Awards||Main Award||Nominated|||
|2018 Spellemannprisen||Song of the Year||"Ignite"||Nominated|||
- The Great Seungri (2018)
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