Korean singer Wheesung admits using narcotic drug in trial, 3-year jail sentence sought

Published January 23, 2021, 7:04 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

Wheesung (Instagram) 

Korean singer-songwriter Wheesung has admitted to the illegal use of the narcotic and psychotropic drug propofol, an injectable anesthetic which was linked to the death of King of Pop Michael Jackson in 2009. 

Wheesung, 38, has been charged for using propofol several times in December 2019 and he was also caught buying the drug from a dealer. 

Propofol is a highly regulated drug in South Korea that the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety issued standards to prevent its misuse and abuse. 

It said in a notice last September that propofol is a “psychotropic drug used to induce and maintain the general anesthetic state.” 

“Medical professionals must properly adjust propofol dose based on the patient’s weight, always bearing in mind that propofol has a high risk of misuse and abuse. Propofol should not be administered independently without reasons related to surgery, surgical procedures, or medical examinations,” the ministry said. 

It also “advised that the number of propofol injection for simple surgical procedures does not exceed once every month and that medical professionals check on the patient’s propofol usage history before prescribing.”Wheesung and an acquaintance were indicted last Aug. 31 for violating Korea’s Narcotics Control Act. The first trial was held last Jan. 19 at the Daegu District Court. Korean media reported that Wheesung admitted the charges and said, “I’m sorry. I made a big mistake.” His sentencing will be held on March 9. The prosecution has asked the court to sentence Wheesung to three years in prison.

This is not the first time that Wheesung was involved in the use of propofol. In 2013, he was investigated for using propofol while he was fulfilling his military service. He was accused of using propofol from 2011 to early 2013 in various places including dermatology clinics in Gangnam, Seoul. No charges were filed against him. 

On March 31 and April 2 last year, Wheesung was found passed out in a bathroom of a shopping mall in Seoul and in a bathroom of a hotel. It was later found that he took etomidate, another injectable anesthetic, which is described as the “second propofol.” No charges were filed. Wheesung participated as a songwriter for tracks of many K-pop artists including Super Junior, BoA, TVXQ, SHINee and Girls’ Generation, and recorded original soundtracks for Korean dramas such as “Moon Embracing the Sun” and “It’s Okay, That’s Love.”