The 29-year-old rapper of popular K-pop boy band Big Bang is in critical condition, his doctor revealed today.
- Only taken to hospital more than 14 hours after ingestion of tranquillisers
- Indicted for smoking marijuana a day earlier
- Doctors concerned about possible brain damage
- Mother claims son is “dying”
TOP, whose real name is Choi Seung-Hyun, was hospitalised yesterday for an apparent drug overdose. He was found unconscious at a police station where he was undertaking mandatory military service and rushed to intensive care at the Ewha Womans University Medical Centre in Seoul.
According to police, Choi took the pills at about 10:00 pm on Monday, but couldn’t wake up by noon, which apparently caused others to take him to the hospital.
The South Korean pop star is “suspected to have overdosed on benzodiazepine” – a class of tranquillizers which includes well-known brand name drugs such as Valium.
According to AFP news agency, the doctor did not specify if 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 with a 21-year-old would-be singer only identified by her surname Han. He was transferred out of Gangnam Police Station, where he had 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. Smoking the banned substance is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison or a 50 million won (US$44,500) 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 letter of apology.
“I deserve punishment for hurting the (Big Bang) 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 male between the ages of 18 and 35 is required to perform two years of military service.
This is in view of the continued threat from its neighbour, North Korea. The 1950-1953 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war.
Earlier, multiple Korean media reports claimed that police denied Choi was in critical condition.
It was alleged that a police official said, “A medical examination showed Choi had no serious problems and he reacts when people call his name or pinch him.”
“When he was transferred to the hospital, he wasn’t taken on a stretcher, but was helped by others.”
However, TOP’s mother has lashed out at the false reports.
She reportedly told journalists, “Is it the hospital who reported that TOP was sleeping? The police told me that they never said that he’d regained consciousness. But why are there articles saying he did? The doctors told us that his tongue was drying and that he is lacking oxygen input, so he could have problems with his brain. He has an oxygen mask over his nose right now.”
She added, “When he came to the hospital, he was unconscious. He is still unconscious, but the media is being told wrong things.”
It is believed that TOP is still in ICU.
Earlier, rumours had circulated that the idol had been taken out of the intensive care unit because his name had been removed from the list of patients in ICU. However, the hospital revealed, “TOP is still in ICU. His name was just taken out of the list.”
It was revealed that it was the request of his family members, but the reason was unknown.
The mother has even claimed that her son is “dying”, which may be due to her extreme anxiety. What’s troubling is even doctors are concerned TOP may suffer some brain damage.